REVERE — Joseph Morante was remembered Thursday as a bright teenager who had left high school but was continuing to pursue his love for technology when he was shot and killed Wednesday during a robbery in a Boston cellphone store.
Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley made a poignant plea for justice Thursday in the killing of the 19-year-old, asking for the same compassion that followed the death of 24-year-old Amy E. Lord, who was found slain in Hyde Park last week.
Conley’s office said the Revere teenager was shot Wednesday afternoon during a robbery at the South End cellphone store where he worked in the 1000 block of Tremont Street.
“He was just 19 years old; his death, too, is an unimaginable tragedy for his family, friends, and loved ones,” Conley said, as he announced that Edwin J. Alemany was being charged in Lord’s death. “His case deserves the same outpouring of public support received in Amy’s case. He, too, deserves nothing but our very best efforts.”
Morante was robbed before he was shot, according to the district attorney’s office. Electronics were missing from the store and were believed to have been stolen, according to a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation.
Conley said no arrests have been made, and he asked anyone with knowledge of the crime to call police.
Relatives at Morante’s mother’s Revere home and at his father’s home in East Boston Thursday declined to comment.
Morante’s high school teachers described him as a bright student, fascinated with technology, who wanted to open his own business one day.
It was not unusual for him to spend his lunch hours in the classroom reading up on his latest academic interest, said Yu Chen, a humanities teacher at the Phoenix Charter Academy in Chelsea who taught Morante for a year.
“He was always asking questions, just because I think he was inherently a very curious person, a very intellectual person,” Chen said. “He would always ask questions about concepts that we would learn in world history and how they would apply to America. He was operating on a different level.”
Morante came to the academy after struggling with truancy at another high school but seemed to flourish in the smaller environment, said Mistie Parsons, head of the academy.
Nicholas Forster, Morante’s adviser during his last year in school, said Morante could be in the middle of an in-depth discussion of Plato’s “The Republic” one minute and the next minute giving advice about the fastest computer hard drives on the market.
“Joe was a bright, bright kid, really kind,” he said. “They say there are two types of smarts: book smarts and life smarts. Well, he was both of those.”
His voracious academic appetite stretched back to middle school, said Janet Addonizio, a librarian at the Revere Public Library since 1976.
Beginning when he was just 10 or 12 years old, she said, Morante would show up nearly every day after school to read.
When he wasn’t reading, he would help the staff reshelve books, she said.
“No matter what it was, he just wanted to help out,” she said. “He was a great all-around kid, and you can’t say that about a lot of kids these days.”
Morante didn’t return to school this last year for personal reasons, Chen said, and he found a job at the cellphone shop doing what he loved: helping people and learning about technology.
Chen said he last saw Morante in February near Downtown Crossing and the teenager dropped a bombshell: He was planning to marry.
”He was very relaxed and free,” he said. “He talked about how he was getting married, and his fiancee was next to him. He was working at a store; he was happy with his life.”