As 13-year-old Gabriel Clarke recovered in a hospital bed after being shot Friday while walking to choir practice in Roxbury, classmates returned to a school guarded by police and shaken by the violence.
“Everybody knows what happened, and we were talking about it in school,” said Carolina Alcantara, a seventh-grader at the Curley K-8 School in Jamaica Plain. “A lot of us are sad, because a lot of us know him and we can’t believe that he was shot.”
Alcantara, who lives in Roxbury, less than a mile from where the shooting occurred, said she heard about the shooting Saturday, and her immediate thoughts turned to the deadly violence that befell students at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
“It’s extra scary for me, because I live close to where it happened,” Alcantara said, standing next to her mother, Rosa, who was picking her up from school Monday afternoon.
Police say Clarke was on his way to Berea Seventh-Day Adventist Church on Humboldt Avenue about 7 p.m. when a vehicle pulled up and someone shot from inside the car.
Clarke, who was shot in the stomach, had been in critical condition, but is recovering.
“He’s on the mend, and he’s experiencing a lot of pain,” said the Rev. Nigel G. David Sr., pastor of Berea Seventh-Day Adventist, which Clarke attends. “He said God spared his life.
“He’s anxious, scared, and nervous,” David said. “Right now he’s trying to battle those emotions, so he hasn’t gotten as far as thinking about going back to school or church. This has been traumatic for him, and he’s trying to get his head around what happened.”
David said a prayer service for Clarke is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday at the church.
Two Boston police officers stood near the entrance of the school Monday as students boarded buses or were picked up by parents.
There was a heavy police presence in the Roxbury neighborhood where the shooting occurred. One officer walked along Humboldt Avenue and stood in front of several convenience stores and restaurants near Ruthven Street. Other police in cruisers drove through the neighborhood.
In the past five years, in an area framed by Harold Street, Howland Street, Elm Hill Avenue, and Seaver Street and intersected by Humboldt Avenue, 17 people have been shot, including three homicides, according to Boston police statistics.
Inside a convenience store on Humboldt, several longtime residents discussed the chronic violence in the neighborhood and surrounding community.
“These kids, man, they don’t want to listen to the people who have been there, who were once in their shoes,” said Rufus Davis, 46, who has three teenage daughters and a son. “There are no jobs for them, the education system isn’t doing what it should to help them, so they’re left to the life of the streets,” he said. “No outlets for them, other than running in a gang.”
Walking her puppy nearby, Paola De La Rosa, 25, said that while the shooting happened not far from where she lives, she is not concerned for her safety. “Most of the violence that happens around here, it’s directed at people who are involved in it, so no, I’m not particularly scared.”
Police have not disclosed a possible motive in the Clarke case. Clarke is widely thought of as quiet and friendly.
Katreena Muhammad, 19, has lived her entire life near the Humboldt and Homestead intersection. About five years ago, she looked out her window and saw a gunman fire off two shots before running away. “You grow up here, and nothing really shocks you. I’ve learned how to be careful.”