BOSTON — In 2011, 24-year-old Fara Diagne was murdered in a busy Boston neighborhood.
Fara was gunned down in the Grove Hall section of Roxbury on Friday, June 17, sometime after 8:30 in the evening.
The attack took place in front of witnesses and the scene was recorded on video surveillance, but nine years later, there is still no arrest.
I'll get back to that in a moment.
First though, I want to focus on Fara himself, because he was so much more than a crime statistic.
Recently, I met with Fara's older sister, Mona Diagne, and we talked about her brother.
"Growing up, he was a really happy kid," Mona told me. "He had a good heart, that's one thing I can say for sure."
It's important to remember Fara's happiness, because he and his entire family all emigrated to Boston from the West African nation of Senegal in 1998. They made the move so that Fara's grandmother, who moved to Boston in the late 1960's, would not be alone.
"It was very difficult, moving to a country where you don't understand the language and you don't understand the culture," Mona said.
But Mona says, it was a different experience for Fara.
"Coming to America was always his dream. This is what he always wanted, to live in America one day," said Mona.
Eventually, the Diagne family, like so many others before them, adapted well to their new country, learning its customs and earning full U.S. Citizenship.
Along the way though, there was a change in Fara during his teenage years. Mona noticed her brother was hanging with the wrong crowd and was making some bad personal decisions. Mona tried talking to Fara.
Sadly, Fara was arrested one day. He was ultimately convicted of drug possession and was sent to jail.
Behind bars though, there was another change in Fara.
"He wanted to live a positive life. He was never happy that he was in jail," Mona told me.
Fara earned his GED in jail, and when he was released, Fara was accepted to Roxbury Community College, where he was planning to study Business Administration.
Months later, it all fell apart.
"Death never crossed my mind," Mona said.
On June 17, Mona was told her brother was shot and she raced to Boston Medical Center.
Fara was already gone when she got there.
“Nothing seemed real. I was just waiting for someone to pinch me and say, ‘Hey wake up! You’re dreaming!’” Mona recalls. “I was praying for that to happen, but it never did.”
Recently, Boston Police Homicide Detective Frank McLaughlin took me to Blue Hill Avenue and Warren Street, the corner where Fara was fatally shot.
It is a busy place in February, cars and buses fill the intersection, and people crowd the sidewalk. On a warm June night, as the sun was setting, this section of Grove Hall was much busier.
"It's amazing no one else was hit, " McLaughlin tells me.
The Boston Police investigation has so far shown that about 9 p.m., Fara was standing on the sidewalk with two other young men.
Video surveillance reveals another group of young men ran across Blue Hill Avenue towards Fara.
When Fara and the others saw this, they ran across the street.
Shots were fired.
One bullet caught Fara and he dropped to the ground on the other side of Warren Street.
Despite the video surveillance recording, despite interviews with dozens of people, Boston Police don't have what they need to break the case.
"It's frustrating for us, when you are in the middle of a place where there are hundreds of people around, and we aren't able to find the correct witness," McLaughlin told me.
Fara's family has spent nine years wondering who killed him.
Boston Police believe the gunman got within 20 feet of Fara when he squeezed the trigger; there is little doubt someone wanted Fara dead. But why?
Mona Diagne and her family are desperate for answers.
They remember a bright young man with a wide smile and a wide-open future.
They acknowledge he made mistakes, but they never thought those mistakes were fatal.
The family is certain, somehow, Boston, the Diagne family's adopted home, will come through for them.
“My brother loved Boston so much,” Mona told me recently. “The day he died, the date was 6/17. And 617 is the area code of Boston.”
Maybe it's a sign, that now is the time for justice for Fara Diagne.
Call Boston Police Crime Stoppers at 1.800.494.TIPS if you can help.
© 2020 © 2020 Cox Media Group