Homicide on Hemenway

By Heather Allen and Stephanie Vosk

As Auden Kaehler walked home from Snell Library Monday evening, he turned onto Hemenway Street from Forsyth Street and saw the blue lights. His first instinct was to call his roommate, but Jimmy didn’t pick up.

Kaehler said he had missed “it” by 10 minutes. The “it” was the shooting and later death of his roommate, James H. Cassidy of Worcester.

At approximately 10:20 Monday night, Boston Police Officers from District 4 responded to a call that someone had been shot at 204 Hemenway St. According to the Boston Police Department, officers found Cassidy, 21, a middler criminal justice major shot twice, once in each leg. Cassidy was transported by Boston EMS to Brigham and Women’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 1:30 a.m.

No one else in the apartment or apartment building was injured on Monday night, which leads Boston Police to believe that the suspects went to the address looking specifically for Cassidy.

“Currently, we are in the preliminary stages of this investigation. We have interviewed several people who were in the apartment at the time of this homicide,” said Deputy Superintendent of the Homicide Unit of Boston Police Paul Farrahar. “We have every reason to believe that this is not a random act of violence and that in fact, the victim of this homicide, James Cassidy, was the target of a group of males who entered this apartment on Hemenway Street.”

At a press conference at the Boston Police Headquarters, Farrahar said three or four men, wearing “hoodies” and bandannas covering their faces, came to the door asking for Cassidy by name. Boston Police also said “a large gun” was used, possibly a rifle. The firearm has not been recovered.

Farrahar said that the apartment building, which has eight units leased to Northeastern, including Cassidy’s, was seized in order to collect evidence.

“Boston Police officers spent the night and into [Tuesday] conducting interviews and have frozen an apartment at 204 Hemenway St. in anticipation of executing a search warrant,” Farrahar said.

Associate Dean and Director of Residential Life M.L. Langlie said that the residents were relocated on campus while officers were investigating the crime scene. One of Cassidy’s roommates, Kaehler, said Tuesday evening that he was not afraid of living in the apartment.

“If they wanted to hurt other people, they would have done it last night,” he said.

According to Boston Police, several people were in the apartment when the suspects entered, tying their hands together and separating them from the victim. A roommate of Cassidy was present at the time of the incident.

“I was in the bathroom when the guys came in. They tied all of us up,” said Philipp Klingmann. “I heard two shots and obviously someone was hit.

“It was like a bad nightmare. I never would have believed that this happened to us.”

Klingmann said that duct tape was not put on his mouth, he was just ordered to the floor and his hands were tied up.

Cornelia, a friend of Klingmann’s who would not give her last name, said that Cassidy’s girlfriend and two roommates were present at the time of the incident.

“It sounded like someone fell down the stairs, then I heard a girl shouting,” said Rachel Johnson, a 22-year-old elementary school teacher, who lives in the building.

“This building has a history of having some problems, so I’m happy to be moving out June 1,” Johnson said.

Peter Landers, a middler finance major who lives on Hemenway Street, did not hear the shots, but caught the end of the incident when he returned from the Marino Center Monday night.

“A kid ran outside just yelling, ‘He’s bleeding, he’s bleeding.’ Two minutes later, Hemenway was shut down,” Landers said.

Klingmann, a junior international business major, had just arrived in the United States seven weeks ago from Germany. He had been living with Cassidy since his arrival.

“It was completely unexpected. I appreciated his presence, he was just a roommate. I am really shocked and surprised,” Klingmann said.

When the suspects entered the apartment, Klingmann said they told the others present, “Don’t look” and “Don’t move.”

Klingmann said he is confused and he did not think Cassidy had enemies.

“I saw the good part of Jimmy, not the bad. Why shoot him? I would never expect it.

“[Cassidy] was just an ordinary student. You could not distinguish him from any other Northeastern student or any other college student,” Klingmann said. “I think this has nothing to do with him being a Northeastern student, it might be because of another thing.”

Friends of Cassidy, or “Jimmy” as they called him, said he was a normal college student, who lived his life day by day.

The Dean of Criminal Justice Jack Greene said that Cassidy was an average student with a QPA of 2.98.

As reporters, cameras and curious spectators stopped in front of 204 Hemenway St. throughout the afternoon, awaiting new information, two of Cassidy’s friends looked on from across the street.

One friend, who had known Jimmy since their freshman year, was at Brigham and Women’s Hospital last night awaiting the news of his friend’s condition.

“It hit me when I saw the blood on the sidewalk,” said Alex Rockwell, a middler computer science major.

Rockwell said he waited with Cassidy’s parents and long-term girlfriend, Alexis, but would not elaborate on the scene or the situation. As he said this, tears welled up in his eyes.

“He had no enemies.”

According to one of Cassidy’s roommates, that was not present at the time of the shooting, Auden Kaehler, a senior international business major, Cassidy was due in Roxbury District Court on Monday for a pretrial hearing.

After several attempts, representatives from the Suffolk District Attorney’s Office could not be reached for comment about the court appearance.

Cassidy told Kaehler that an incident occurred between himself and a group of gentlemen on New Year’s Eve this year. According to Cassidy, the men started harassing Cassidy and his girlfriend. When Cassidy approached the group, a knife was pulled out, and when Cassidy reached to pull the knife away, he accidentally grazed a man with the knife.

Kaehler was unsure if the New Year’s altercation was in anyway related to Monday night’s shooting.

Another friend of Cassidy’s, who would only identify himself as Brian, expressed anger towards the shooting saying he could not comprehend any possible motive.

“It’s how the world is today and they just don’t give a [expletive],” Brian said. “Some stupid punks think they can take a life, just like that.”

As for rumors floating around campus that Cassidy was involved with drugs, Brian said they are completely false.

“He didn’t do drugs, that is totally wrong,” Brian said. “I don’t know why they would bring up drugs, I don’t know. I don’t know what the police would be looking for.”

Rockwell agreed, “He didn’t need to drink to have a good time.”

Police left 204 Hemenway St. at 3:30 p.m. with approximately eight to nine brown paper bags and one large box filled with evidence from the apartment. Police would not comment on the items retrieved.

As clouds covered the sky and raindrops began to fall, one of Cassidy’s friends pushed through the reporters to leave a single bouquet of flowers on the doorstep of the apartment building.

Northeastern President Richard Freeland, contacted late Tuesday evening in his office, was at first speechless, then explained that he had just finished a phone conversation with Cassidy’s mother, Susan Cassidy.

“I extended on behalf of Northeastern to the Cassidy’s a sense of great sadness, this is obviously a terrible thing,” Freeland said.

He emphasized that this incident was not a random act and maintained that Northeastern is a safe environment.

“We take public safety very seriously,” he said. “Our campus is generally a safe campus with a good record, this is a terrible exception.”

Freeland expressed his condolences to the Cassidys who have lost a son and to Northeastern students who have lost a friend.

“He was the center of the group. We’re just average guys, he was an above average guy. We looked to him,” Rockwell said. “We were always with him, he wasn’t with us.”

– News Staff writer Brendan Reilly contributed to this report

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