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Man killed, officer fired at in Jamaica Plain; suspect held

Boston Police Commissioner William Evans spoke at the scene of a fatal shooting on Centre Street in Jamaica Plain.Scott Eisen for The Boston Globe/Globe Freelance

A young man was shot to death Wednesday morning on a normally tranquil corner in Jamaica Plain, and a police officer helping with snow removal in the area dodged bullets while in pursuit of the fleeing suspects, police said.

The officer, aided by fellow police, chased the suspects through snow-filled yards and ultimately questioned two men, Police Commissioner William Evans told reporters at the scene.

The victim, a man believed to be in his 20s, was pronounced dead near the corner of Centre and Orchard streets, shortly after the shooting was reported around 10:30 a.m., Evans said.

Police did not identify the victim or the officer involved.

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Josiah Zachery, 18, of Hyde Park was one of two suspects initially detained by police, and he has been charged with murder and assault by means of a firearm on a police officer, a statement released by police Wednesday night said.

A law enforcement official briefed on the investigation said the other man was questioned and released.

Police also said that a firearm was recovered during their investigation.

It was unclear what motivated the shooting, but police said the victim arrived in Jamaica Plain with several other men in a white passenger van operated by Roca, a Chelsea-based nonprofit antiviolence program that seeks to keep men out of prison. The men had apparently come to help clear snow from the area.

“The investigation is very active,” Evans said.

He said the officer was in his cruiser when the suspects ran past him. After the officer got out of his car, one of men fired at him several times. “Thank God the officer wasn’t hurt,” Evans said.

He praised the officer for not firing back. “He did use a lot of restraint,” Evans said. “I give the officer a lot of credit for the quick response.”

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Officials were at the scene of the shooting Wednesday.Scott Eisen for The Boston Globe

When asked if the shooting was gang-related, Evans said he did not know.

“We are trying to piece together why this all took place in this location,’’ he said. “It’s disturbing. I feel bad for the neighbors here.”

He said it was unclear whether the violence resulted from a dispute that began inside the van or whether the suspects followed the van.

John Ward, Roca’s senior associate for development and policy, said the organization is working with investigators, but he said he could not comment further because of the investigation. “We are cooperating with authorities,” Ward said. “We are deeply saddened by what happened.”

Roca has a transitional employment program, part of which involves contracts with local cities in which crews of young people do jobs including landscaping and cleaning.

An area resident said in an e-mail that he heard two or three gunshots around 10:30 a.m. and went outside a few minutes later and saw a man lying on the sidewalk on Centre Street, between Orchard Street and Arborway Terrace. The area is a residential neighborhood between the Soldier’s Monument and the Arnold Arboretum.

Councilor Matt O’Malley, who represents Jamaica Plain, called the violence in the heart of Jamaica Plain “beyond shocking,” especially because it occurred in broad daylight.

“But by all accounts, it doesn’t seem like a random incident,” he said. “I give credit to Boston police for following up so swiftly to get this suspect under arrest.”

Evans called the shooting “a terrible tragedy.”


Mike Bello and Meghan E. Irons of the Globe Staff contributed to this report. David Abel can be reached at dabel@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @davabel. Akilah Johnson can be reached at ajohnson@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @akjohnson1922.

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