The Boston Massacre. On March 5, 1770, British soldiers fired into a crowd that had been pelting them with insults and snowballs. Five colonists were killed. Paul Reveres portrayal of the eventwith a line of soldiers firing when an officer gave the orderwas intentionally inaccurate, designed to arouse public outrage. Popular leaders pointed to the massacre as evidence that a standing army threatened American libertyand American lives.