CAMBRIDGE — For most of the past 18 months, James Lauture helped his cousin Jamal perform simple daily tasks.
Jamal Payen, who went by “Ty,’’ was paralyzed from the waist down after he was shot on a Dorchester street about four years ago, his family said. Lauture, who was his cousin’s personal home health aide, had served about two years in jail on a drug possession charge, and had been trying to stay out of trouble since his release four years ago, relatives said.
Together the two men supported each other, each recovering from personal struggles.
Lauture, 30, and Payen, who was reportedly in his late 20s, were each shot multiple times just after midnight yesterday as they sat in a car on a residential street in Cambridge near Central Square, a few blocks from a relative’s home. Lauture died from his wounds.
Dan Riviello, Cambridge police public information officer, deferred comment to Middlesex District Attorney Gerard T. Leone Jr.’s office. Leone’s office did not return calls.
But according to family and a statement released by Leone’s office, about 12:15 a.m. yesterday police responded to a report of two people shot near Massachusetts Avenue and Main Street, where the victims had flagged down a firetruck to call for help. The shooting had occurred moments earlier at nearby Brookline and Watson streets, according to Leone’s office.
Witnesses who live near the scene said a hail of bullets, perhaps as many as 12, struck the car. Lauture was hit in the chest by three rounds, family members said, and was pronounced dead at Massachusetts General Hospital. Payen, who was wounded and underwent surgery yesterday at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, is expected to survive, family and authorities said.
Relatives said in interviews yesterday that they believe the killing was retaliation for an altercation at Jefferson Park in Cambridge last April, when Lauture allegedly beat another man. Police questioned Lauture in the beating but he was never arrested, relatives said.
On Friday night, the family said, Lauture, Payen, and another relative visiting from Atlanta, ate a late dinner with Susie Lauture, his 35-year-old sister, at her Brookline Street apartment. The three left about 11 p.m. with plans to attend another relative’s birthday celebration at a nightclub on Eliot Street.
For some reason, the three men were not admitted to the club, said Susie Lauture, and they headed back in the direction of her apartment.
“Everybody loved James, as far as I know and as far as everybody else knows,’’ Lionel Charles, Lauture’s uncle, said.
Charles acknowledged that his nephew had frequent scrapes with the law but said he was cleaning up his life and trying to care for his two children, ages 11 and 3.
“It’s not like it used to be, when someone beat you up and you beat them up, and that’s it,’’ Charles said.
In 2001, the family said, Lauture was stabbed and mugged at the Alewife T Station. A coat draped over Lauture while he lay injured contained a drug, they said. Police arrested him on charges of drug possession, and he served two years at the South Bay House of Correction in Boston, they said.
“When you come from jail they don’t give you any opportunities in life,’’ said Nadege Charles, 54, Lauture’s mother, in a tearful interview yesterday at her Jackson Place home in Cambridge .
Nadege Charles, who has custody of her son’s 11-year-old daughter, said her son would come over nearly every night to help her with homework and attended parent-teacher conferences. The girl will now grow up without her father, she said.
“I just come from Haiti three weeks ago to bury my uncle,’’ said Nadege Charles. “Now I have to bury my son. It’s too much.’’
Globe correspondent Matt Byrne can be reached at: mbyrne.globe @gmail.com.
Published Sunday, March 13, 2011