Hollywood or any other outside critic may say what they want about the culture in Charlestown, but for those on the inside who need support – such as Susan Rawlinson, the mother of murdered young man Stephen Jones – the neighborhood is a pillar of love and strength.
Facing the accused murderer of her son in Boston’s Suffolk Superior Court last Thursday morning, Rawlinson stood strong alongside the scores of Charlestown friends and family members – breaking down only once in court – to show that her late son Stephen Jones’s spirit was greater than the act of senseless violence allegedly committed against him by Pablo Flores.
“The people of Charlestown were there for me,” she said emphatically after the arraignment in the hallway of the courthouse. “My doorbell did not stop ringing. You hear good and bad about Charlestown. That Townie love is real though. A lot of things here in Charlestown are different now. One thing that hasn’t changed – forget all the Code of Silence stuff – is that the Townie love has not gone away. I can’t tell you how much love and support I’ve seen from Charlestown over the last few months since Stephen was murdered.”
That love was quite apparent in the courtroom, where Magistrate Gary Wilson had to arraign Flores at the end of a busy session because so many supporters – all decked out in shirts that read ‘Love You Jonsey’ – from Charlestown had shown up to create a unified front against what had happened in the courtyard of an apartment complex just after 10 p.m. on May 7th.
Flores was indicted for the crime back in late June by a Grand Jury, but he had already fled the area and police were not able to locate him. Therefore, he was not arrested for the crime, not officially charged, and Rawlinson was left all summer to linger without the closure of bringing her son’s alleged murderer to justice.
That all changed last Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 4, when police in Dorchester went to serve a warrant to a man in an unrelated case. When they entered the apartment to deliver that warrant, they saw Flores, recognized him and then the chase a was on.
Flores allegedly fled out the back door and down a fire escape and then through several backyards. He was easily apprehended though and quickly brought in to be charged in court the next day.
In court Thursday, Flores pleaded ‘not guilty’ to charges that included second-degree murder, three counts of assault with a dangerous weapon and a plethora of firearms charges.
Prosecutors did ask the magistrate to keep all materials under seal because individuals, witnesses and family members had already suffered intimidation and threats related to the case during the Grand Jury session in June. Two people, prosecutors said, have already been charged with harassment for those actions.
A trial date of Sept. 3, 2014 was tentatively set for Flores.
“Stephen’s not gone; he’s right here in my heart,” said Rawlinson afterward. “This day was supposed to be here and I had to be strong so that I could let people know about Stephen. A great person was taken from us. He had the ‘serenity prayer’ tattooed on his ribs and that meant everything to him. I have to say, don’t bring a gun to a fight. Let’s put the guns away please. People get hurt. Mom’s get hurt. I am hurting.”
Jones was described in court as the essence of an innocent victim.
A 21-year-old lifelong Townie who graduated from Charlestown High School in 2010 and was known to promote peace in the neighborhood, Jones was simply walking home with a friend when he saw Flores fighting with a much smaller young man. Seeing the mismatch and the pounding being doled out, Jones and the unidentified friend ran over to intervene and stop the violence.
Jones got between the two and pulled Flores off the smaller youth. However, Flores became infuriated, allegedly, and turned his anger towards Jones. Pulling out a handgun from his waistband, he allegedly fired three shots at close range at Jones – hitting him in the abdomen and chest.
Jones was only 250 feet from his front door when he was killed.
Rawlinson said her son was coming back home from a barbecue to meet her, as she was on the Mass Pike coming home from out of town. However, she had experienced car trouble on the Pike and was running late.
“We talked around 9 p.m. and he said he was grilling a steak at a friend’s house and he would see me around 10 p.m.,” she said. “I was on the Mass Pike and my car had broken down and there was smoke and fire from it and I told him I would call him back. About a quarter to nine I called him back and got his voice mail over and over. Then all the calls started coming in. I picked up the phone and they were telling me my son was dead, that he had been shot and was dead on arrival. Everyone was calling me. I couldn’t believe it.”
Last Saturday, the community came together near Jones’s bench at Monument Avenue. Numerous friends attended, and there will also be a football tournament on Oct. 12 to raise money for a hat and coat drive in Jones’s name.
For Rawlinson, the trial and legal process will play itself out, but she said the good things they will do in her son’s name around Charlestown will overshadow it. She said the charity events and remembrances for her son will be an extension of the life he led.
“He was just an all-around good kid,” she said. “He loved sharks and wanted to be a marine biologist, but had just started working with the Teamsters. He played all sports and loved sports. He was known to help a lot of the kids in the neighborhood I guess. They tell me he would bring a sweatshirt to someone on the street if it was cold. Stephen just had a way of loving you in a crowd and loving you individually. He would find individual people and care for them. I didn’t know all the things he did until afterward. I had no clue.”
Flores was held without bail and determined to be a flight risk.