The tight-knit family came to Boston for the 90th birthday party of a beloved aunt. But instead of celebrating, the relatives are mourning the fatal shooting of one of their own, and hoping the killer of 22-year-old Chiara Levin will be caught.
As police looked for the assailant who shot Levin as she was leaving an after-hours party in the city’s Dorchester section early Saturday, her relatives gathered in a downtown hotel, grappling with the loss of the young woman who grew up in Danville. Levin was among about two dozen relatives who came to Boston to fete her great-aunt from Newton on Saturday night.
“It was supposed to be a big party,” Levin’s cousin Jonathan Schwab said yesterday in a telephone interview. “Everyone came down for a happy occasion. It turned out to be a sad one.”
Levin, a 2002 Danville High School graduate, was the daughter of William Levin, a professor at Centre College, and Grazia Levin, an Italian immigrant from Florence.
Schwab, 26, who lives in Colorado and did not travel to Boston for the party, was called about the shooting by his parents Saturday. His parents, who live in Virginia, were staying at the Boston hotel where Levin had checked in.
Friday night, she went out with two friends from the University of Michigan, where Levin had graduated last year. About 4 a.m., Schwab’s father received a call that his niece had been shot.
Before going to the party, Levin was hanging out with two friends, whose identities were not released yesterday, at Caprice Restaurant and Lounge, according to Schwab and two law enforcement sources.As the bar was closing, someone they met at the bar invited them to an after-hours party at a house on Geneva Avenue, the sources said.
Shortly before 4 a.m., a fight broke out as Levin and her friends were leaving, and shots were fired. Neighbors said they heard about five shots.
Levin was hit in the head as she sat in a car outside the house, said a law enforcement official who was briefed on the investigation.
Police officially identified Levin yesterday as the victim and said she was not the intended target. One of her friends was injured, but it was not clear how, Schwab and a source said.
Partygoers with Levin at the time of the shooting did not seek immediate medical help, though eventually she was driven to Boston Medical Center, where hospital officials called police.
Police are still seeking others who were at the party, department spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said.
Police said they were investigating whether a 22-year-old man who checked himself into the same hospital with a gunshot wound to the shoulder about 4 a.m. Saturday was connected to the party.
Levin’s father, an art history professor, had been in Italy with colleagues for a study break. He flew to Boston to be with his wife, who flew from Kentucky, Schwab said. Levin’s parents, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, identified their daughter’s body, he said.
Martha Warren, who went to high school with William Levin, recalled briefly meeting Chiara Levin at their 40th high school reunion and immediately being charmed by her.
“Beautiful smile,” Warren said. “She was one of the nicest, sweetest girls-next-door that you can ever imagine.”Levin, who has an 18-year-old sister, was raised in Danville and attended the University of Michigan because she was eager to be at a large campus, former high school teachers have said. She majored in French and francophone studies and considered living in France after graduating, Schwab said. Then, he said, she accepted a job in New York as the assistant to a booking agent at Judson Management Group, which Schwab said manages artists.
He said he last saw his cousin last year, when he was in New York for a wedding.
“She seemed happy,” he said. “She was really loving her job.”