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TechBoston Academy students, parents ‘in shock’ after double shooting; suspect still at large

Mayor Michelle Wu visited TechBoston Academy in Dorchester on Wednesday morning.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff/The Boston Globe

A day after a history teacher and student were shot outside TechBoston Academy, parents and students at the Dorchester school said they were stunned and angry over the senseless burst of violence, which the Suffolk district attorney denounced as “community terror.”

“I don’t even know how to feel, I’m just so in shock,” said Suleika Soto, whose daughter is in eighth grade at TechBoston. “I can’t believe this happened at her school.”

Shortly before 6 p.m. Tuesday, Khelmon Bethel, a 31-year-old teacher, and a 17-year-old student were outside the school before an away basketball game when a dozen shots rang out, police said. Both were wounded but are expected to make a full recovery.

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Witnesses said they saw two suspects flee the area on a scooter. As of Wednesday afternoon, police had not made an arrest.

Near the school on Peacevale Road, neighbors milled about in the spring-like weather, stepping onto porches to check on one another.

“For this area it doesn’t really shock me, but it is a lot,” said Artiana Brown, a senior at TechBoston. Brown said she was blasting music in the shower when the shooting occurred, and at first wondered why so many people were calling her.

“When I got out of the shower, I saw all the calls and texts of people asking if I was OK, and I realized what happened,” said Brown, who has Bethel as her history teacher this year. “I’m still in shock because I literally saw him [Tuesday] yesterday. It’s weird that he won’t be there tomorrow. He’s a really cool teacher, and I hope his family’s OK.”

In a statement, the Boston Teachers Union condemned the shooting as “unacceptable.” Bethel and the student were both in stable condition and expected to make a full recovery, the union said.

Grace Richardson, a neighbor who stopped by Brown’s home Wednesday morning, came running outside after she heard the shots.

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“I was on the phone, and I heard a pop-pop-pop noise,” she said. The school’s parking lot soon filled with police cars and ambulances.

“This is crazy. I hope they get some cameras around here or something,” said Richardson, who lost a child to gun violence and fears for the students who flow through her neighborhood. “It’s a tough year for these kids, and then this happens? Some of them have already lost friends, so I do worry.”

Another neighbor, who graduated from TechBoston last year, said Bethel had been her history teacher and was beloved by his students.

“He really knew how to connect with the students,” said the woman, who declined to give her name. “He’s always about protecting the students, first and foremost.”

After hearing the shots from her apartment window, she saw two young people take off on scooter, which she remembered being outside the school earlier in the afternoon.

“I was outside at 1 or 2 and the scooter was already there, but I don’t know if the people riding it were there, too,” she said.

After the shots, students ran into the gymnasium to take cover, she said.

TechBoston Academy was closed for classes Wednesday, but remained open to students and staff who were looking for help and support. On Monday, a 31-year-old technician at the school, Ernest Logan, was charged with receiving sexual images from a minor, officials said.

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Soto said her daughter seems to be coping well with everything, and wasn’t at the school at the time of the shooting. Although she is worried for her daughter’s safety, she feels it’s important for her to return to class.

“She’ll be going back [Thursday] and getting her education,” said Soto, who attended TechBoston Academy when it was called Dorchester High, and remembers weathering a similarly traumatic incident. “It’s really hard. I don’t know if there’s a perfect solution but something needs to be done to keep these kids safe.”

Kevin R. Hayden, the Suffolk district attorney, said his office is actively working “with all of our government and community partners in reducing this menace to safety.”

The shooting marked the second serious attack on a Boston Public Schools educator this school year. In November, a 16-year-old girl assaulted Principal Patricia M. Lampron at the Dr. William Henderson Inclusion School, knocking her unconscious.

City councilors expressed their support for the TechBoston community while denouncing gun violence.

“I am heartbroken for the TechBoston community in the face of this violent attack,” Brian Worrell, who represents Dorchester, Mattapan, Roslindale, and Jamaica Plain, said on Twitter. “We need to take action to end gun violence in our community!”

Mayor Michelle Wu, who visited the school Wednesday morning, also met with School Superintendent Brenda Cassellius and staff after the shooting Tuesday night.

“This is an unacceptable situation, and we are going to do everything it takes to ensure that each one of our schools, our parks, our communities are the safe, welcoming homes that all of our students deserve,” Wu told reporters Tuesday. “This is a beautiful community. This is a school that is loving and strong and just so full of opportunity and energy.”

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Craig F. Walker and Jenna Russell of the Globe staff and Globe correspondent Matt Yan contributed to this report.


Ivy Scott can be reached at ivy.scott@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @itsivyscott. John R. Ellement can be reached at john.ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.