scorecardresearch Skip to main content

Mom recalls 13-year-old son killed in Mattapan as a ‘kid with high energy’ who had felt safe in the community

Tyler Lawrence.

Between his home in a quiet suburb and his grandparents’ home in the city, Tyler Lawrence lived the active life of an adolescent boy surrounded by family, friends, and a supportive environment.

He played in a youth basketball program, was learning to cook and play music at a teen center, and was being mentored by the Big Brothers and Big Sisters organization and the Paul Robeson Institute for Positive Self-Development.

And yet the 13-year-old became another inexplicable victim of street violence on Sunday when he was shot multiple times out walking in Mattapan during one of his many weekend visits to his grandparents. The death of someone so young touched off grief in Boston and in Norwood, where the Lawrence family moved to find a quieter life.


“I climbed the ladder, I moved to Norwood, I did everything that I thought I was supposed to do to give my son a chance,” Lawrence’s mother, Remy Lawrence, told reporters Tuesday in a tearful interview outside her parents’ home in Mattapan.

Lawrence said she texted her son every day when he got out of school, although he usually didn’t want to talk while on the bus with friends, she recalled with a laugh. She told him constantly how proud she was of him, she said.

“He was figuring it out,” Lawrence said. “But one thing’s for sure: he loved his friends, loved his grandparents endlessly.”

On Tuesday, Suffolk District Attorney Kevin R. Hayden said the shooting appeared to have been deliberate.

“The facts of the case, as we know them right now, would certainly suggest that this is not a random act of violence,” Hayden said, calling the shooting “gut-wrenching” and “heartbreaking.” He urged anyone with information about the case to contact Boston police.

Jeffrey Paul, 12, lives next door to Tyler Lawrence’s grandparents and said they were best friends. He couldn’t sleep after hearing he had died.


“He was always a good sport,” Paul said. “I couldn’t do anything without him.”

Tyler Lawrence’s great-uncle, Douglas Taylor, adjusted a clutch of flowers at a memorial on Babson Street, where the boy was shot, angling them into a chain-link fence to keep them from blowing away.

“No 13-year-old deserves this,” Taylor said. “What could a 13-year-old do?”

In Norwood, school Superintendent David Thomson said Lawrence was a well-loved student at Coakley Middle School.

“His bright smile was on display every morning, and he made friends wherever he went,” he said in a statement. “He was an avid basketball player, and enjoyed sports and being outside.”

Remy Lawrence (center), the mother of Tyler Lawrence, hugged his best friend, Jeffrey Paul (left), while Paul’s mother, Islande Tunis, offered support. Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

Emotional support will be available to students and staff this week and to anyone who seeks it in the future, he said.

At the school Tuesday, Cassandra Sanchez, 12, said students were emotional over Lawrence’s death.

“It was hard,” Sanchez said. “Some people were crying. They were feeling bad. It was sad.”

Sanchez’s mother, Angelica Sanchez, said she had spoken to her daughter about the death and they had offered condolences to his family.

“How can a 13-year-old boy lose his life?” Angelica Sanchez, 38, said in Spanish as her daughter translated. “It’s really sad that a life was taken. It hurts for the parents.”

Last summer, Tyler Lawrence was an active member of No Books No Ball, a volunteer group that runs a basketball league for children ages 6 to 16, said Anthony Richards Sr., the group’s founder. Last year, 550 children participated, Richards said.


Area police brought comfort/therapy dogs to Coakley Middle School for Tyler Lawrence's classmates.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

“He was a young, innocent 13-year-old. He seemed to be very good in school,” Richards said. “So it’s really shocking to hear something of that magnitude.”

Richards said Lawrence played guard in the 13-16 age division, and loved being on the court.

“He just wanted to play,” Richards said. “The kid just wanted to belong and wanted to be involved in some activity.”

In Mattapan, people were left reeling by the boy’s death. Stacey Thomas, 62, has owned the gas station at the corner of Babson Street and Blue Hill Avenue, just one block from where Lawrence was killed, for 33 years. She first met him when he was 5 or 6, she said.

“They think I’m everybody’s mother around here,” she said.

When he lived in Mattapan, Lawrence used to come to the store for a snack on school days after classes let out at St. Angela Merici Church, just down the block, she said.

“Whenever he came in” she would greet him with a hug, Thomas said.

Thomas said she saw the crime scene as she arrived to work Sunday but did not realize it was Lawrence until she got a call the next morning.

“I couldn’t even think yesterday. He was on my mind all day,” she said. “I can only imagine how his grandparents are doing. Parents are not supposed to bury their children.”

Emmett Folgert, a longtime advocate for community safety and youth opportunities, said the idea that a victim so young would be targeted is “disturbing.”


“The fact he was targeted means . . . someone was aiming for him,” Folgert said. “It really tears your heart out.”

Folgert said he believes “more young people are shooting,” and those who are doing the shooting are “disconnected” from the community.

A man who lives on Fremont Street, near where Lawrence was shot, said he was doing laundry when he heard the gunshots. He came outside a few minutes later to see the boy’s body on the pavement, yellow tape running from a police car to the fence.

“It’s crazy,” he said.

Remy Lawrence said police didn’t notify her family about her son until around 7 p.m. Sunday, after she and her parents had searched for him for hours.

“Come see me, come see about us,” she said. “Because we’re not OK. I’m trying to be, and I’m going to be strong, and I’m going to have my moments of breakthrough pain.”

Jeremiah Manion, Travis Andersen, and Emily Sweeney of the Globe staff and Globe correspondent Kate Armanini contributed to this report.

John R. Ellement can be reached at Follow him @JREbosglobe. Daniel Kool can be reached at Follow him @dekool01. John Hilliard can be reached at