A man caught with a gun during a BPD sweep after a double murder at Jamaica Plain's Mildred Hailey Apartments was sentenced today to 2 1/2 years in federal prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, the US Attorney's office reports.
Quantae Elmore, 22, was arrested while he was serving probation on a Norfolk County conviction for unarmed robbery, witness intimidation, and assault and battery, eight months after his release from jail on a 2 1/2 year sentence that a judge shortened to one year on the condition he stay out of trouble, according to court records.
He pleaded guilty to the federal charges earlier this year.
In a sentencing recommendation - for 36 months - federal prosecutors recounted his arrest on the night of May 4, within 15 minutes of the shooting deaths of Chris Joyce and Clayborn Blair, in an apparent war between Orchard Park and the Heath Street gangs, a war authorities say the two men had nothing to do with - they were outside celebrating Joyce's impending graduation from college. Another alleged Orchard Park member has been charged with their murders.
Shortly before 10pm on Friday, May 4, 2018, Boston Police Department officers assigned to the Youth Violence Strike Force were patrolling the Orchard Gardens Housing Development. They went to this area in response to a multiple persons shot incident that took place at the Mildred Haley (formerly Bromley Heath) Housing Development in Jamaica Plain about fifteen minutes beforehand, as part of an ongoing feud between the Heath Street and Orchard Park gangs. Earlier that morning, an Orchard Park associate had been shot. The officers went to the Orchard Gardens development to investigate possible links between the Jamaica Plain shooting and Orchard Gardens.
While traveling on Zeigler Street inside the Orchard Gardens development in an unmarked Crown Victoria, the officers saw a white Scion with two males that officers recognized to be Orchard Park and/or Vine/Forest Street gang members walking towards it. Around this time, officers received information that a small white motor vehicle occupied by an unknown black male had been seen speeding away from the area of the Jamaica Plain shooting. Officers circled the block and returned to investigate the white Scion. Officers noticed that a number of additional Orchard Park and/or Vine/Forest Street gang members, including Elmore, were now standing by the car.
Officers recognized Elmore as a member of the Vine/Forest Street gang and knew him to have a prior firearm arrest. After making a number of observations that led them to believe that Elmore was unlawfully armed with a firearm, officers conducted a pat/frisk of Elmore near 93 Zeigler Street, near the intersection of Zeigler Street and Bethune Way. They recovered from his waistband a Smith & Wesson, Model 60, SPL .38 caliber revolver, loaded with five rounds of .38 caliber ammunition. When officers asked Elmore for his license to carry a firearm, he replied, "Man, I ain't got that."
Elmore wrote a letter to the judge in his current case pleading for leniency, saying he agreed to plead guilty after realizing what he had done was wrong - but denying he was a member of a gang:
When I make bad decisions like carrying a firearm, it has an effect on more than just me. It affects the community. It affects my family, the people I love, like my wife and kids. There are so many risks that come with it. You risk getting arrested, and missing out on time with your loved ones. But most of all you risk the chance of people getting hurt and taken away from their family forever. Fortunately, no one was hurt in my situation. But I can think of countless situations where someone close to me has been hurt or killed by gun violence, or arrested for carrying a firearm. It is not worth it. It's not worth the heartache or the stress that people have to go through on both sides. ...
I understand that I am labeled as a VNF gang members according to the BPD Gang Data base, because I have been FIO'd [stopped and interviewed by an officer] with known gang members or arrested around them. But those are vague judgments. Anyone can be FIO'd or arrested with the next person and that doesn't necessarily mean that they are gang affiliated. No one should be profiled in such a way. A big reason why I do not gang bang is because I have lost so many friends to street violence. So many people dead because of nothing and that's not what I want for myself. I have a future and I would like to prosper. Although I know gang members, people in the street know that I am not gang affiliated.
In her sentencing recommendation, Elmore's attorney called for a sentence of 18 months, pointing both to his letter and to his troubled childhood as mitigating factors:
Quantae Elmore had an unsteady start to his life, due to the circumstances of his family, health, and neighborhood. His mother, Mickalean Owens, was adopted because her own mother was addicted to crack cocaine. Ms. Owens and her foster mother did their best to raise Quantae in a loving household. Quantae's father suffered from schizophrenia. Later, he became addicted to crack. These circumstances resulted in a chaotic environment for a young child to develop. When Quantae was only two years old, doctors diagnosed him generically as having an emotional disorder. Mental professionals administered a battery of tests and prescribed medication based on speculation of bipolar disorder, a diagnosis that later proved incorrect. Quantae was administered a frenetic cycle of medications due to the incorrect diagnosis. In 2012, when Quantae was 14-years old, the Boston Public Schools administered a psychological report reflecting a proper diagnosis of ADHD and depression. After that point, adjustments were made in the school system and through his doctors so that Quantae received the help he needed.
Despite the progress he was making and after witnessing Quantae getting mugged one day after school, Quantae's mother sent him to Providence, Rhode Island, to live with his uncle. He was finished 8th grade and started at Hope High School. He made the football team. Just as Quantae was beginning to flourish in newfound stability, life took another unexpected and difficult turn. One afternoon after football practice, Quantae lay down for a nap. He woke to a nightmarish scene. His uncle's house was burning down. Quantae remembers standing alongside his uncle as they watched their home burn to the ground. All of Quantae's possessions burned in the fire. The two had to rely on the Red Cross who gave them money for clothes. At only 14 years old, and with no place to stay in Providence, Quantae had no choice but to return to Boston.
Back in Boston, Quantae continued to grow up near the Orchard Park housing development, an area with a high rate of gang activity. Many individuals in this neighborhood belong to a gang or personally know gang members. Quantae has also has been a direct victim of violence from people involved in gang activity. Five months prior to his arrest in this case, Quantae attempted to go celebrate his 21st birthday in downtown Boston. A simple night of celebration ended with Quantae getting kicked in the mouth and having his jaw wired shut at Boston Medical Center.
The US Attorney's office said it recognized that Elmore has potential and that his letter shows he might finally be on the right path - but said the judge could not simply ignore his lengthy record:
The fact that he continued to be gang-involved and gun-involved, despite being on probation in state court after being given a very lenient sentence by the judge there on his most recent case, after being admonished to take that as an opportunity to turn his life around, demonstrates that a significant sentence is necessary to promote respect for the law and provide just punishment and deterrence in this case. The government's recommendation here, of 36 months imprisonment, is the same sentence that the Commonwealth recommended, but did not obtain, in Elmore's unarmed robbery, witness intimidation, and assault and battery case; in that case, Elmore served a total of approximately 20 months including his sentence for violating probation. A progression to a more serious sentence is necessary to demonstrate to the defendant that continued crime will result in progressively harsher punishment, as the state court judge warned him upon his last conviction, in order to deter him and others who are following his case from further criminal conduct.
Elmore has a lengthy criminal record, and is mentioned in 52 Boston Police Department incident reports, including the theft of multiple scooters/dirt bikes/mopeds, possession of a crossbow and razor arrows, drug possession, threats to police officers, various fights, unarmed robbery and witness intimidation, and [two other] firearm incidents.