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New Bedford teen killed in Boston hotel while partygoers played with 9mm pistol, DA says

A New Bedford teen was shot in the head when she swatted a 9mm semiautomatic pistol being held by a Hyde Park man while both were attending a party in a Boston hotel room in February, prosecutors said.

Nalijah Andrade was pronounced dead at the Hyatt Regency Boston Hotel in Downtown Crossing after Boston police responded to investigate a shooting at a private party around 11:30 p.m. on Feb. 4, according to Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins’s office.

According to prosecutors, Andrade was talking with Messiah T. Leggett, who had allegedly been handed the 9mm pistol with one bullet in it by an acquaintance, identified as Kenny Jnleys.

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“Mr. Leggett was playing with the gun and flirting with the victim when she swatted his hand, and he accidentally discharged the single round in the firearm, killing the victim,’' prosecutors wrote in papers filed in Suffolk Superior Court.

Few details surrounding the 17-year-old’s death were disclosed by police and prosecutors at the time of the incident, but new information emerged Monday when Leggett was arraigned on charges of manslaughter and carrying a firearm without a license, according to court records.

Not guilty pleas were entered on Leggett’s behalf and bail was set at $25,000 cash during the Superior Court arraignment.

Prior to the fatal shooting of Andrade, Leggett was being prosecuted by Rollins’s office on illegal gun possession charges stemming from an August 2020 arrest. His defense attorney is asking a judge to throw out all the charges in that case, arguing his rights were violated by a stop and frisk search by police.

Leggett was free on bail from the 2020 charge when he met Jnleys and an unidentified 21-year-old man who had rented the room at the hotel, according to prosecutors.

Jnleys and the man who rented the room had partied for several hours when Andrade and three other teenaged girls along with Leggett joined them, prosecutors said.

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“In addition to drinking, smoking, and partying, individuals were playing and posing with a 9mm semi-automatic pistol,’' prosecutors wrote.

Around 11:30 p.m., Leggett was allegedly holding the pistol when Andrade swatted his hand.

Following the shooting, Leggett, Jnleys, the three surviving teenaged girls all left the hotel. A short time later, police located Leggett and the three girls along with the 9mm handgun near the Boston Common, prosecutors wrote.

Leggett allegedly told police what happened after being given his Miranda warnings, prosecutors wrote.

“He told police that the juvenile had been playing with the gun and that he had reached to stop her; that he had grabbed the gun and when both his and the juvenile’s hands were on the weapon, it accidentally discharged,’' prosecutors wrote.

Leggett also allegedly told a person at the party that the shooting was an accident, prosecutors said.

Jnleys is facing illegal gun possession charges after prosecutors said detectives established he had the handgun prior to the shooting of Andrade. He is scheduled to be arraigned Oct. 5.

The maximum sentence for a manslaughter conviction is 20 years.


John R. Ellement can be reached at john.ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.