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Man opened fire after seeing former girlfriend in Salem State student’s car, prosecutors say

Carl-Hens Beliard met Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll during a tour of the Massachusetts Statehouse on April 26, 2023, in Boston. Beliard, an 18-year-old Salem State University student, was fatally shot in Salem early Wednesday morning, according to Essex County District Attorney Paul Tucker.Rick Cinclair/Associated Press

An 18-year-old Salem man shot and killed a Salem State University student on Tuesday after he saw a woman he once dated riding in the student’s car, prosecutors alleged Thursday.

Missael Pena Canela was ordered held without bail after pleading not guilty to the killing of Carl-Hens Beliard, 18.

In Salem District Court, assistant district attorney Erin Bellavia said that Pena Canela had a turbulent relationship with a Salem woman that included obsessive and controlling behavior. On Sept. 7, Pena Canela became enraged when he saw she had gotten a text from her former boyfriend and smashed her cellphone on the sidewalk, Bellavia said.


Around 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, Pena Canela allegedly saw the woman riding in the passenger seat of Beliard’s car and opened fire, Bellavia said. Beliard, a forward on the men’s basketball team, was struck by a single shot. He crashed the car on Forest Avenue and was rushed to Salem Hospital, where he died.

During the investigation, police arrested Pena Canela for the September incident and charged him with vandalism. Under questioning, he admitted he had fired at Beliard’s car, Bellavia said.

Pena Canela’s lawyer, Debra D. DeWitt, did not challenge the prosecutor’s version of events.

Missael Pena Canela appeared at Salem District Court with attorney Debra DeWitt. Paul Bilodeau/Pool

The shooting happened across from a parking lot near the university’s athletic facilities a short time after thousands of Halloween revelers departed the North Shore city’s annual celebration.

Beliard’s death is the second fatal shooting near a state university campus in less than a week. On Saturday, a 19-year-old Southbridge man, Randy Armando Melendez Jr., was killed in a shooting in a parking lot at Worcester State University that wounded another man. Neither victim attended the university, officials said. The alleged shooter, Kevin J. Rodriguez, 18, was arrested in New York City, officials said Thursday.

Beliard graduated this year from North High School in Worcester. He was a member of the school basketball team that won the Division 1 state championship. He also made the high school’s honor roll in the second quarter of his senior year, officials said.


On Wednesday, Al Pettway, North High School’s dean of students and boys basketball coach, shared his memories of Beliard.

“He was a great kid, smart, smart student, he had a smile that would just brighten up any room when he would open his mouth, so we lost a really, really good one today, unfortunately,” Pettway said.

John R. Ellement and Kathy McCabe of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

Talia Lissauer can be reached at talia.lissauer@globe.com. Follow her on Instgram @_ttphotos.