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A child was murdered on a quiet Sunday morning in Mattapan. Let that sink in.

Tyler Lawrence, who lived in Norwood, was just 13 and visiting his grandparents when he was gunned down on a street in Mattapan on Sunday morning.

Douglas Taylor, the great-uncle of Tyler Lawrence, visited a memorial at the site where the 13-year-old was fatally shot.Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

Numbers can tell any story you want. But numbers always have a human face behind them.

Tyler Lawrence, a boy with a big smile and unlimited potential, became a number Sunday.

The people who knew and loved him, his family, his classmates at the Norwood middle school he attended, will remember someone who was robbed of a chance to grow up, get an education, get a job, raise a family, have a life. In city records, he will be remembered as the second homicide victim of 2023.

He fell near his grandparents’ house, 28 days after and less than a mile from where Jymaal Cox, the city’s first homicide victim of 2023, died on Blue Hill Avenue. Cox, a 33-year-old a father of two, was shot at a house party on New Year’s Day.


Boston recorded only two homicides in January. There were 41 homicides in Boston last year, and the five-year average is 49, one of the lowest per capita of any major American city. Boston also has fewer shootings than cities of similar size.

At one level, the numbers look good. The police and their civilian partners in reducing violent crime have made some real and sustained progress.

But try telling the families of Jymaal Cox and Tyler Lawrence that the numbers look good. Try telling people who live in the handful of neighborhoods where most of Boston’s gun violence takes place that the numbers look good.

Presumably, the murder of Tyler Lawrence will get more attention than the fleeting notice paid to Cox’s no less tragic, violent demise, if only for his tender age.

Tyler Lawrence was 13. Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden said Tyler Lawrence was targeted, so it appears a 13-year-old child was assassinated in Boston on a quiet Sunday morning. Let that sink in for a minute.


Hayden reflected on how he returned home from the murder scene to watch an NFL playoff game with his 13-year-old son, a scenario of familial normalcy that made the Lawrence’s family’s loss feel all that much more devastating to the DA.

Six days before Lawrence was murdered, shortly before 2 p.m., the same District B-3 station that sent officers to Lawrence’s shooting dispatched officers to a report of a stolen car parked on Stratton Street in Dorchester. When police arrived, someone in the passenger seat of the stolen car bolted.

According to a police report, “The suspect could be seen clutching his waist area and discarding a firearm.”

Officers chased the suspect down and took him into custody. He is 12 years old. Police said the 9mm handgun he allegedly discarded had one round in the chamber and six others in the magazine.

Police also arrested the driver, a 16-year-old.

There’s no evidence suggesting a connection between those boys and Tyler Lawrence, but both cases highlight something very disturbing: children, cruising the streets with loaded guns; children being shot with guns.

Three months ago, District 4 City Councilor Brian Worrell stood in the council chambers, overcome with emotion, saying more has to be done to address gun violence. A week earlier, his family’s barber, Max Hylton, was shot dead in his Dorchester barbershop. When Worrell was a kid, his cousin was shot to death over a pair of sneakers. Then his uncle was murdered.


Worrell and his constituents know the numbers show there has been progress in combating violent crime in the city, but that doesn’t make them feel safer. His own experience speaks of a cumulative effect of violence in District 4.

“Guns are louder than statistics,” Worrell told me Tuesday. “Gunfire reverberates a lot longer than statistics.”

The lack of investment in his district, in infrastructure, in services is the number that he’s focused on, the stat that belies the citywide statistics.

“We have never invested enough in this community and its people,” he said. “How do we keep our kids engaged? Investing in this community.”

Investing in marginalized communities, he said, is a numbers game that works far better in the long run.

Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at kevin.cullen@globe.com.