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Tensions flare at memorial for slain Roxbury teen

Anger, pain, and raw emotion boiled over at a vigil Wednesday night for a 15-year-old Roxbury teenager killed in a triple stabbing near Dudley Square Tuesday.

Hundreds of family members, neighbors, and teenagers circled the tree at the center of Dudley Square, laying candles, letters, and stuffed animals at its base, as they gathered to ­remember Lance Hartgrove, who was slain in the attack.

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Several neighbors chided the teenagers, many of whom stood hand in hand sobbing, and pleaded with them to end the violence.

Family members said that Hartgrove had been repeatedly chased home from school, bullied, and assaulted after engaging in arguments with gang members over girls and turf on Facebook.

“They were threatening his life, and he was scared to go to school,” Towanda Kellam, Hartgrove’s mother, said Wednesday night.

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She said the gang associated themselves with Wheatland Avenue in Dorchester and warned Hartgrove to stay away.

“I changed his diapers, I helped raise him, and now I have to say goodbye forever,” said Innette Kellam, an aunt of the slain teenager. “It’s heartbreaking.”

The gathering turned tense around 7 p.m. when a group of teenagers, two of whom had been at the vigil, ran from ­police who had questioned them about a stolen car.

The chase prompted dozens of teenagers and officers to run from the vigil toward the pursuit.

Four teenagers, three males and a female, were handcuffed and arrested in the parking lot of the Social Security Administration office, at 10 Malcolm X Boulevard, just feet from where Hartgrove was killed.

About 20 minutes later, ­police intervened after a standoff between teens who had come to mourn Hartgrove, and another youth who they ­believed was a member of the gang responsible for the stabbing.

Many of the teenagers screamed angrily at police as they protected the presumed gang member from the crowd.

No one has been charged in the stabbing.

“Our community has been traumatized,” said the Rev. ­William Dickerson of Greater Lover Tabernacle in Dorchester, who helped keep the crowd under control.

“If anger is not channeled the right way,” he said, “then anger breeds more violence.”

Wesley Lowery can be reached
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