The 34-year-old man facing first-degree murder charges in connection with the fatal shooting of Tyler J. Lawrence, 13, last month in Mattapan has a lengthy criminal history of violence, including multiple assault convictions stretching back more than 15 years, according to court documents. He also was found not guilty of a murder charge in 2017.
Csean Alexander Skerritt, is expected to be arraigned “in the very near future” in Dorchester Municipal Court in the slaying of the teenage boy who was visiting his grandparents when he was shot, Suffolk District Attorney Kevin R. Hayden said at a news conference Monday afternoon at Boston police headquarters in Roxbury.
Authorities did not describe the circumstances of the shooting or provide a motive for the bloodshed that has stunned the city.
“There is still a lot that we do not know about this terrible crime,” which has “shaken our city to its core,” Hayden said.
In a statement regarding the murder of her son, Remy Lawrence said her family “is relieved and grateful that Boston police and the district attorney’s office have taken the first steps toward justice for our beloved Tyler.”
“We would like to thank all of the investigators, the detectives, and the elected officials for their continued support for our family, for their integrity and their persistence,” she said. “Those who have stood with us have displayed an immense outpouring of love and support and we are so grateful for it at this difficult time.’'
On Jan. 29, Lawrence was fatally shot while walking on Babson Street in Mattapan around 11:30 a.m., about 10 minutes after he left his grandparents’ house on a neighboring street, relatives have told the Globe. He was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.
Skerritt was arrested Sunday for alleged fentanyl distribution in a federal case that is separate from Lawrence’s homicide case.
Skerritt has a lengthy criminal history, including multiple convictions of assault, according to a Globe review of court records. He was convicted in Plymouth District Court of assault and battery on a public employee in 2008, and convicted of the same crime in Boston Municipal Court in 2011.
In 2006, he was convicted in Middlesex Juvenile Court of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and of armed assault with intent to murder.
Additionally, prosecutors said Monday Skerritt was convicted in Suffolk Superior Court of a 2010 gun case and served a three-year prison sentence.
In November 2017, a Suffolk Superior Court jury found Skerritt not guilty of first-degree murder and gun-related charges in the 2014 slaying of Julien Printemps in Dorchester’s Ashmont neighborhood. At the time, police alleged that Skerritt and Printemps, who according to court documents were “affiliated with rival groups,” had exchanged words in a parking lot of a convenience store before gunfire erupted. Police said Printemps tried to drive away on Dorchester Avenue before he was fatally shot.
Skerritt was released from prison in November 2013 and was on probation at the time of Printemps’s murder.
Attempts to reach Skerritt’s attorney in that case were not immediately successful Monday. Because of his past convictions, Skerritt is considered to be an “armed career criminal,” according to law enforcement and court documents.
At Skerritt’s appearance in federal court on the drug charge in Boston Monday, a prosecutor said that Hayden “had secured a warrant regarding the murder of this innocent child,” US Attorney Rachael S. Rollins told reporters.
“So, Csean Skerritt is aware of that fact, and I sat and watched as he heard those words,” she said.
Hayden’s office said the federal charges are not related to Lawrence’s killing. Authorities did not disclose how Skerritt was allegedly connected to the shooting.
“The murder of a 13-year-old is a nightmare for any parent in any city at any time,” Boston police commissioner Michael A. Cox said Monday. “We want to send our condolences to the family, but more importantly, hopefully this provides some form of justice to them.”
Hayden stressed that the public shouldn’t rush to any conclusions, saying “we believe the shooter in this case intended to do what he did.”
“As I’ve stated before, we must [make] no assumptions about Tyler Lawrence from the evil intent of the shooter in this case,” Hayden said. “Our best reflections of Tyler should be drawn from yesterday, from the words and presence of so many who turned out for his memorial.”
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu described Lawrence as a “shining young child at 13 years old with a whole life ahead of him.”
“And so today is about a measure of accountability and a measure of justice,” she said.
In Skerritt’s federal case, he allegedly sold a cooperating witness who was wearing a recording device 50 ounces of suspected fentanyl on Feb. 1, according to an FBI affidavit filed in US District Court in Boston.
The two met near Skerritt’s mother’s house in Boston, the FBI said. Skerritt was allegedly paid $1,500 in cash for the drugs, according to the FBI.
The arrest came one day after hundreds of people lined up outside a shopping center in Norwood to pay their respects to Lawrence and his family at a celebration of the child’s life.
When the memorial concluded, Tyler’s grandfather, Stanley Lawrence, stepped out to express his appreciation.
“From the soles of my feet to the top of my head, I thank you,” Lawrence said, his voice breaking as he fought back tears. “I feel your love and I know that Tyler feels it too.”
Educators and classmates from Dr. Philip O. Coakley Middle School in Norwood, where Tyler was an eighth-grader, have recalled him as a peacemaker, never hesitating to step in if there was a disagreement and help find a middle ground.
“If people were arguing, Tyler was always the one to try to make people come together and be friends,” Izzy Flores, 16, said on Sunday.
“He’d bring them together to talk it out, you know? Making one another share things they liked about each other, so maybe they can start to work through their issues,” she said.
“He was a good soul,” said Rhoda Robinson, Izzy’s aunt. “He was one of the kids [who’d] walk away from the dumb, crazy stuff. He was always trying to make peace and never got in a conflict with anyone.”
John R. Ellement of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.
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