Kenneth “Kenny” Lamour arrived at the Centre Street rotary in Jamaica Plain Wednesday morning to shovel snow as part of a work crew organized by the nonprofit Roca Inc.
But around 10:30 a.m. he crossed paths with Josiah Zachery, an 18-year-old Hyde Park resident with a “significant juvenile history” and lost his life, according to a prosecutor. Zachery pulled out a large-caliber handgun, said Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Ian Polumbaum, and fatally shot Lamour, 21.
Lamour was found mortally wounded in the snow and pronounced dead 10 minutes later, according to a Boston police report.
It marked the first time in Roca’s nearly 30-year history that a work crew member was killed at a job site, said Molly Baldwin, the agency’s founder and chief executive.
“He came to work [Wednesday] because he was trying to change his life,” said Baldwin. “He was struggling to make changes, which is a precious and important thing. There will never be enough words to express how unacceptable and tragic this is.”
Lamour, a Roslindale resident, had been in the program for seven or eight months. Making sure they have job skills is a key part of how Roca helps young people turn their lives around.
She said Lamour’s alleged assailant had no connection to the Chelsea organization, which works with some of Greater Boston’s most at-risk youth, including high-school dropouts, young parents, and those who have been through the criminal justice system.
Zachery was arraigned Thursday in West Roxbury District Court, where he remained out of view at the request of his defense attorney, who said the case involves identification issues.
He is also accused of firing at a Boston police officer, who stopped his vehicle to investigate when he heard gunfire, Polumbaum said.
“When he pointed the gun at the officer, the officer ducked down inside his vehicle, then gave chase to the shooter who then, while running away, fired rounds pointing back behind him with a gun at least twice,” Polumbaum said. The officer was not hurt, according to police.
Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley praised the police for “great restraint . . . in the face of a deadly threat.”
Zachery evaded the officer, but was seen cutting behind a house on a side street, Polumbaum said. He was described as wearing a black jacket and gray sweat shirt with the hood up, Polumbaum said.
When police caught him on Centre Street, Zachery was covered in snow, wearing the hoodie and sneakers, and carrying a black-and-yellow shovel, which he said he had been using to clear snow in various neighborhoods, Polumbaum said.
A black jacket was found under a porch, where officers also found sneaker prints that appeared to match shoes worn by Zachery, Polumbaum said.
The owner of the house where the jacket and footprints were found told police his black-and-yellow shovel had just gone missing. Police found a handgun on the roof of a neighboring garage, Polumbaum said.
In court Thursday, not-guilty pleas were entered on Zachery’s behalf to charges of murder and several firearms offenses. He was charged separately with assault with a dangerous weapon for the alleged attack on the officer.
Defense attorney Jack Miller questioned whether witnesses were accurate in their identification of Zachery as the suspect.
“The witnesses said he appeared to be the same person,” he said. “I’d be curious to see just exactly what happened in that identification procedure.”
Outside court, Miller said Zachery was innocent and did not know Lamour.
Zachery was ordered held without bail and is due back in court March 12.
Roca representatives attended the arraignment and met with Lamour’s family afterward. Baldwin said the agency has contracts with about 20 cities and is “very intentional” about where it sends its work crews to ensure they do not go to places where they had previous problems.
Lamour had been prosecuted in the past, most recently last year when he pleaded guilty to threatening to shoot a woman who honked her car horn at him, court records show. As part of his probation, he was ordered to enter a job-ready program.
In 2011, he was charged in Suffolk Superior Court with stomping on a Department of Youth Services worker after the worker was knocked to the floor by a second DYS detainee, according to court records and Conley’s office. The DYS worker was seriously injured.
He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 2½ years in prison with credit for 322 days he had spent in jail awaiting trial. Separately, Lamour pleaded guilty in 2013 to assault and battery charges and was given a sentence concurrent with the previous case, court records show.
Lamour’s parents, sister, and aunt sat together in the second row during the arraignment. After the proceeding, they said Lamour was taken too soon.
“Kenny was a bright light. He was a future scholar,” said his aunt, Magalie Lamour. “He was as bright as what you would expect the next black president of the United States would be. He didn’t get a chance to prove that.”
Lamour’s mother, Carine, said Roca helped him and she felt strong.
“I feel safe,” Carine Lamour. “God will take care of it.”