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Older brother pleads not guilty to gun charges related to 12-year-old’s shooting death in Mattapan

A Boston police officer passed by a bouquet on the sidewalk in front of the home on Fessenden Street where a 12-year-old boy was shot on Thursday afternoon.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

The handgun used in the shooting death of 12-year-old Savion Ellis belonged to his older brother, who stored the weapon in a fanny pack in the boy’s Mattapan home, authorities said Friday as the 22-year-old man was arraigned on firearms charges.

The older brother, Walter L. Hendrick, was in Dorchester Municipal Court where several relatives struggled with their emotions during the proceedings as some details of the child’s death were made public.

A relative wept in the courtroom as Walter Hendrick of Mattapan was arraigned in Dorchester District Court Friday morning in the shooting death of his 12-year-old brother on Thursday.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

In court, Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Nicole Gemba, citing Boston police reports, said officers responded to a home on Fessenden Street shortly after 2 p.m. where they found two children in the home — Savion Ellis and his 8-year-old brother. Savion had suffered a gunshot wound to his chest and was found on the kitchen floor.


Gemba, however, did not say who pulled the trigger, leaving the children’s grandmother, Diane Ellis grasping for information.

“I want to know why,” she said.

Dabbing at her eyes, Diane Ellis briefly described Savion to reporters as she left the courthouse.

“I would say very helpful, loving, respectful,” she said.

Diane Ellis wept for her grandson as she left Dorchester District Court Friday.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Hendrick was allowed to stay out of the courtroom while he pleaded not guilty to charges of improperly storing a firearm so that an child under 18 could access it, and unlawful possession of both a firearm and ammunition.

During the investigation, police located a semiautomatic handgun in the home, and Hendrick allegedly admitted to police that it was his gun and that he had stored it in a black fanny pack. Hendrick was not licensed to own a firearm, and there was no information released on why he had the gun.

In court, defense attorney Morjieta K. Derisier confirmed Hendrick and Savion Ellis were brothers, although she did not identify the younger child by name. She said Hendrick has a child on the way, due to be born next month, and that he has no prior criminal history.


Judge Lisa Ann Grant set bail at $2,500 and ordered Hendrick to surrender any other firearms or dangerous weapons he might possess. In a written order, she explained she had ordered cash bail for a defendant without a criminal record.

“Defendant possessed illegal loaded firearm. His 12-year-old brother was shot and killed by that firearm,” the judge wrote.

Hendrick was expected to post $2,500 cash bail Friday.

Other relatives declined to comment as they left the courthouse Friday. In the afternoon, two Boston police cruisers were parked by the Fessenden Street house: one in the driveway, the other in the street out front as yellow Boston Public Schools buses rolled past the triple-decker home. A large basket of red and white flowers — roses, gladiolas, daisies, some snapdragons, and hydrangeas — sat on the sidewalk by the front stairs, alongside three unlit wax candles in glass cylinders: one white, one yellow, and one blue.

Ellis’s death reverberated throughout Mattapan and the rest of the city on Friday.

Sekou Dukuly, 38, is with the Boston nonprofit Mothers for Justice and Equality, which Friday was hosting a workshop in a park down the street from the location of the shooting. The idea was to encourage youths to go outside.

”It’s not a choice,” he said of trying to help the neighborhood after the tragic death. “We have to do these things for the community; it’s needed.“


He added, ”Everybody here has a passion for what we do. As a minority, it’s important to just be here and show it’s OK.”

The Rev. Willie Bodrick, senior pastor at Twelfth Baptist Church in Roxbury, lamented what he called a “disheartening situation.”

“We have to do an even better job ensuring that we’re working closely as a community to create the safety net that’s necessary so that tragedies like this don’t happen,” he said in a phone interview.

He alluded to another child killed by gun violence in Mattapan earlier this year: Tyler Lawrence, a 13-year-old from Norwood who was murdered while visiting his grandparents on a Sunday morning in late January.

“This is going to cause ripple effects in the community,” he said of the most recent fatal shooting in Mattapan. “Folks are concerned.”

Representative Ayanna Pressley took to Twitter early Friday to say her “heart is broken” over Ellis’s death.

“Gun violence is a public health crisis that is ripping apart our communities, and we can’t accept this unjust status quo,” she said in the tweet.

According to Boston police, as of Sunday, officers had made 277 gun-related arrests in the city this year, compared to 319 during the same time frame last year. While shooting incidents are down year-over-year — 57, compared to 65 during the first six-plus months last year — fatal shootings have doubled, to 16 from eight, according to the latest department statistics.

For some who live in Mattapan, gun violence is a reality of living in the neighborhood. One 64-year-old man who has lived there for decades said, “These sorts of things happen all the time.”


”I’ve been living here 30 years and nothing’s changed,“ said the man, who declined to give his name because he did not want neighbors to know he spoke to the press. ”There are people who pretend they’re doing stuff but there’s nothing to do.”

Another Mattapan resident who declined to give her name said living in the neighborhood “was survival, that’s all it is.” She has lived here her whole life, and lamented that it feels like the neighborhood doesn’t have a voice and that too often people get “sucked into violence,” she said.

The city, she said, should have more initiatives, “not more police, but more outlets for the community.”

Jeremiah Manion and John R. Ellement of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

Emily Sweeney can be reached at emily.sweeney@globe.com. Follow her @emilysweeney and on Instagram @emilysweeney22. Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com. Follow him @Danny__McDonald. Elllie Wolfe can be reached at ellie.wolfe@globe.com. Follow her @elliew0lfe.