Metro

Dorchester man arraigned in shooting outside church

A 52-year-old grandmother had just left a family prayer service at a Dorchester church last Friday evening, and got into the front seat of her son’s car. Then bullets started flying.

One pierced the windshield and grazed her forehead, as her grandson sat in the back seat.

On Friday, the man accused in the shooting that has stunned residents in the Codman Square neighborhood was
arraigned on multiple assault and weapons charges, including assault with intent to murder.

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Prosecutors say James D. Martin Jr., 22, of Dorchester, shot five bullets in the direction of two men who were seen arguing as they stood outside Freedom in Christ Ministry Church on Washington Street just after 6:30 p.m.

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The woman, whom police have not identified, was taken to Boston Medical Center and later released.

“We have an innocent woman,” Suffolk County prosecutor Marc Tohme said in Dorchester District Court. “She’s at church. She’s picked up by her son, and she’s shot in the head . . . through no fault of her own.”

Prosecutors asked that Martin, who has seven prior convictions on drug and gun-related charges, be held on $500,000 bail.

Patrick Whittemore/POOL
James Martin (right) spoke with his Attorney Makis Antzoulatos during his arraignment.

“We have grave concerns for the safety of the community,” Tohme said.

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Judge Serge Georges Jr. ordered Martin held on $150,000 bail, while revoking bail on a previous charge of violating a restraining order.

When Georges announced the bail, Martin banged his handcuffed fists on the glass enclosed area of the dock, where he stood surrounded by three court officers. He shouted obscenities and was restrained by an officer as his friends in the first row shouted “Yo, chill.”

His friends declined comment after the hearing. Julian Joseph, a pastor at Freedom in Christ Church, declined comment when contacted at the church.

The shooting occurred after the woman’s son arrived to pick her up. According to a police report, he noticed two men arguing on the sidewalk outside the church, then heard gun shots coming from the direction of nearby Euclid Street.

He then saw his mother “bleeding from her upper forehead area,” the report stated.

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Martin and two other men fled the area, according to police. Five shell casings were found at the scene.

On Thursday, two Boston police officers who are familiar with Martin identified him after viewing security video taken in the area of the church, located in a commercial block of Washington Street, according to the report.

The video shows Martin putting on a black hooded sweatshirt and a black, flat-brimmed baseball cap that was given to him by one of the two unidentified suspects standing with him, police said. That suspect also “appears to hand off an item” to Martin, who walks toward Washington Street. Martin then fires several shots toward the two men arguing in front of the church, police said.

Martin was arrested at his home Thursday after a foot chase with police, the report states.

His lawyer, Makis Antzoulatos, said the video surveillance did not prove Martin was the shooter, and asked that he be released on $2,500 bail.

“There is not a single shred of evidence,” Antzoulatos said. “There is no gun. There is no clothing. There is no witness on the ground that says it was him. There is no motive. We don’t know who the people were who were shot at.”

Martin’s prior convictions “are for things that are relatively minor,” Antzoulatos said.

Martin lives with and cares for his ailing grandparents, he added.

“Mr. Martin stays home, and literally, helps his grandmother to get from the bedroom to the bathroom,” he said.

Martin is due back in court on June 21.

Kathy McCabe can be reached at Katherine.McCabe@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKMcCabe.