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Chilling shooting of English High student detailed in court

Prosecutor says ex-dean irked that student’s drug sales lagged

Shaun Harrison, a former dean at Boston English High School, at his arraignment Wednesday.Mark Garfinkel/Pool

Shaun O. Harrison Sr. arrived at English High School as a dean in January, but within two months, a prosecutor alleged, he had recruited a 17-year-old student to sell marijuana for him and then became disillusioned with the teen’s sales.

On March 3, that dissatisfaction turned violent as Harrison, 55, arranged for the teen to be attacked by another student at school, then decided to take matters into his own hands, allegedly shooting him in the head later that day, Suffolk Assistant District Attorney David Bradley said Wednesday.

Bradley’s disclosure in Suffolk Superior Court marked the first time the prosecution has offered a possible motive for the shooting, which seriously injured the student and led to the arrest of Harrison, who had made a name for himself in Boston as an antigang activist.

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In the time leading up to the shooting, Harrison texted the teen and made plans to meet him about 7 p.m. near his apartment in Roxbury, Bradley said. The dean told the student he wanted to go to a location for girls and marijuana, the prosecutor said.

“As they reached 100 Magazine St., the defendant pulled out a firearm and shot the victim in the back of the head execution-style,” Bradley said. “The victim fell, and the defendant fled the area.”

Prosecutors say the encounter was captured on surveillance video.

Dressed in a white shirt and wearing glasses, Harrison was arraigned Wednesday on gun, drug, and attempted murder charges stemming from a grand jury indictment returned last month.

He pleaded not guilty and was ordered held on $400,000 bail by Clerk Magistrate Anne Kaczmarek. Defense attorney Michelle Brennan did not make a bail argument.

The teenager was shot behind the ear and survived, prosecutors have said. He identified Harrison as the man who shot him, Bradley said.

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Investigators examined Harrison’s phone and found a text message sent to the teen and pictures of marijuana and guns, Bradley said. The weapon used to shoot the teen and the teen’s cellphone have not been recovered, he said.

The teen told investigators that he knew Harrison by his nickname, “Rev,” and had been selling marijuana for him for several months, prosecutors said. Harrison has referred to himself as a minister since at least 1979, although the source of his ordination is unclear.

Police arrested Harrison March 4. Harrison was subsequently fired from his position with the Boston Public Schools, where he had worked in different roles since 2010.

The same day Harrison was taken into custody, police arrested three men seen exiting his apartment on Pompeii Street. Prosecutors allege they were seeking to remove evidence from the residence.

Dante Lara, 24, and Oscar Pena, 19, were indicted on firearms charges. Pena also faces a charge of possession with intent to distribute marijuana, along with the third man, Wilson Peguero Jr., 23. They pleaded not guilty as they were arraigned with Harrison Wednesday.

Lara and Pena were ordered held on $25,000 bail each. Peguero’s bail was set at $1,000, which he had already posted.

Police records show Harrison has the same tattoo of the number 100 in red ink as Lara and Peguero. He also has a mural of the Latin Kings gang in his apartment, Bradley said.

Two days after Harrison’s arrest, police searched his apartment and a basement storage unit, where they found guns, ammunition, and marijuana.

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Ballistics testing has shown that neither of the guns allegedly found in a safe at Harrison’s home — a loaded Smith & Wesson revolver and a .380 caliber Ruger — matched the gun used to shoot the student, prosecutors have said. However, ammunition of the same brand and type as a shell casing found at the scene was found in the safe, according to prosecutors.

In court papers, Bradley sought to limit some of the evidence the defendants are allowed to see pending trial because several witnesses have expressed fears of retaliation.

A trial for all four men was set for Feb. 23.


Laura Crimaldi can be reached at laura.crimaldi@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi.