Gabriel Clarke, the 13-year-old boy who was shot in the stomach in Roxbury Friday night as he was walking to choir practice, is recovering after surgery and will probably spend the next 10 days in the hospital, his pastor said on Sunday.
“He’s getting better,” said the Rev. Nigel G. David Sr., pastor of the Berea Seventh-day Adventist Church, who visited Clarke at Boston Medical Center Saturday night. “He told me not to make him laugh, because it hurts.”
Clarke became more lucid as the anesthesia from the surgery wore off, and he remains on pain medication, David said.
The Berea church, which typically holds its weekly service on Saturday, will dedicate a 7 p.m. gathering on Wednesday to address violence in the community, he said, and city councilors and clergy from other churches have told him they plan to attend.
Police said Clarke was shot at about 7 p.m. on Humboldt Avenue, but have not disclosed a possible motive. On Sunday, a Boston police spokesman would only say that the investigation is active when asked about the status of the case, including whether police had identified any potential suspects.
The shooting has outraged community leaders and was on the minds of pastors and parishioners at area churches Sunday.
The congregation at Morning Star Baptist Church in Mattapan observed a moment of silence for Clarke and his family, before Bishop John M. Borders III, senior pastor, asked God to curb the level of violence in the city and bring about a speedy arrest in Clarke’s shooting.
He alluded during the service to a quadruple fatal shooting on nearby Woolson Street in 2010 that claimed the lives of a 2-year-old boy, his mother, and two men, and he mentioned the gun control debate, which has intensified after the Newtown, Conn. school shootings in December.
“It is about time for the NRA to listen to some black preachers,” Borders said as the congregation applauded. “If they want to know whether or not we should do something about the amount of firearms in the United States of America, just ask me what it’s like to bury a 2-year-old in the same casket as his mother. Ask me what it is to have four people shot and left naked in the street 1,000 yards from the house of worship.”
Rawleigh Lewis, 63, of Mattapan, said afterward that churches can be a deterrent to violence. “We need to put more people off the streets and into the churches,” said Lewis, the great-uncle of Anthony Lewis, who was fatally shot at the age of 25 inside a Talbot Avenue apartment early Thanksgiving morning in 2008.
At Pleasant Hill Baptist Church on Humboldt Avenue on Sunday, blocks from the intersection where Clarke was shot, the Rev. Miniard Culpepper proposed to the congregation that they start their annual summer neighborhood patrols earlier this year.
He said parishioners and neighborhood volunteers have walked the streets since 2006 to deter crime in the warmer months, when it tends to spike.
“We usually wait until April, when the weather breaks,” Culpepper said. “But it seems like we’re going to have to start patrols now, not wait until spring.”
On Friday evening, after he received calls telling him a boy on his way to church had been shot, he quickly began contacting Pleasant Hill church members to ensure that all the children in his congregation’s youth choir had made it to practice.
“This is not somebody’s problem down the street, or on the other side of town,” Culpepper said during his sermon. “This is my problem.”
Janice Knight, 53, a Pleasant Hill member and longtime neighborhood resident, said she has had a difficult time explaining Friday’s shooting to her 16-year-old daughter, who sings in the church choir.
“I tried to explain to her that sometimes you don’t have to be into anything for that to happen,” she said. “It’s just scary. It’s a problem that no one seems to know how to control it, how to stop it.”
Friends and family have described Gabriel Clarke as a gentle youth who stays out of trouble. Clarke’s relatives could not be reached for comment on Sunday.
He is enrolled in the eighth grade at the Mary E. Curley School in Jamaica Plain, his mother said on Friday.
Matthew Wilder, a spokesman for the Boston’s public schools, declined to comment Sunday in response to the shooting, since police have not formally identified Clarke as the victim.
“I can say, generally speaking, that if the boy is a BPS student, we would certainly have extra counseling staff on hand at his school Monday to help support any students who may be having trouble processing this type of senseless violence,” he said in an e-mail.
Genevieve Day, cochairwoman of the School Parent Council, said Sunday that a council member was planning to contact Clarke’s family.
“Obviously they have our total support, and we’re pretty horrified that this happened to one of our students,” she said.
At Pleasant Hill on Sunday, Precious Pressey, 17, said she was in the church for her own youth choir’s practice Friday night when she heard sirens blaring. She said she could only hope no one had been seriously hurt.
“Sometimes around here, bad stuff can happen,” she said “You just pray that everyone is OK.”