On the final day of 2017, two Boynton Beach brothers were gunned down in the middle of the afternoon, sitting on their front porch. Police reports say the two men were shot multiple times in the back.
The man accused of the crime, 26-year-old Joseph Jr. Bruny of Boynton Beach, told police he shot the brothers over $700 worth of marijuana.
Tuesday police identified the victims as 24-year-old Malcolm Frederick and 21-year-old Jamal Frederick.
“Nothing is worth a life,” said minister and community activist Bernard Wright. Wright lives a few blocks away from where the brothers were killed. “Crime in my neighborhood is like crime in any other neighborhood all over the continental United States. We have isolated incidents in this community…We can’t be responsible for some isolated incidents."
(Scroll down to read what Bruny told Boynton Beach police detectives.)
According to our news partners at the Palm Beach Post, the brothers join nine others who were killed in Boynton Beach in 2017.
Contact 5 found under the recently retired Chief Jeffrey Katz, crime in Boynton Beach jumped 24.9 percent from 2014 to 2016. For the first half of 2017, four out of five crimes in Boynton Beach went unsolved.
Wright says he had no idea crime rates had climbed that high.
“Amazingly ridiculous,” said Wright. “Chief Katz, I got to know him on a personal basis and he was glorified, but he didn’t get involved as he should have in bridging the gap between the misconception of the department and the community."
Wright says it does not have to be this way.
“There is no trust in the community with the police department because of the way they conduct themselves. There has been no correction in the way they violate our constitutional rights over here and just act like we are animalistic and we don’t have any rights.
“This has to be stopped and nipped in the bud if there is going to be a relationship between our department and our community.”
In the past, Katz told WPTV his community outreach was a highlight of his tenure with the department.
Mayor Steven Grant spoke to Contact 5 via phone, and gave us this statement:
“Two people died over $700 worth of marijuana, and that makes me feel that the CRA [Community Redevelopment Agency] has not done its job in creating economic opportunities for that community. I feel that area needs to have more economic opportunities, because, what has happened is that the CRA has bought properties on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd that used to be the commercial area for Boynton. They have not put anything there in years, except a Family Dollar. My hope is to put more commercial buildings there so that people who do not have access to a car can walk or bike to a commercial zone.”
We reached out to City Commissioner Christina Romelus and Vice Mayor Mack McCray for a comment about crime statistics in Boynton. Both declined to comment.