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Teen shot and killed on Dorchester street was making gains in school

School staff had taken him out to celebrate progress

A friend of Jonathan Dos Santos, who was shot and killed Wednesday night, lit a candle to commemorate him.The Boston Globe/Globe Freelance

Hours before he was fatally shot while riding his bicycle to his aunt’s house in Dorchester on Wednesday, Jonathan “Jo Jo” Dos Santos enjoyed a special school outing that he had worked all year to earn.

The 16-year-old studied for months to improve his reading skills, and made so much progress that he exceeded goals set for him at McKinley Preparatory High School in the Fenway, headmaster Velecia Saunders said Friday.

As a reward, Dos Santos picked a teacher and a classroom assistant he wanted to spend more time with, and they went to the Shops at Prudential Center for lunch. The ninth-grade student and his instructors also visited Dos Santos’s mother, Laura, at her job at the Sheraton Boston Hotel — something the teen “really wanted” to do, Saunders said.


The hard-earned lunch date, however, quickly turned into a bittersweet memory after Dos Santos was killed later that day. Two young men waiting with guns drawn opened fire on the teenager as he pedaled by them at about 8 p.m. at the intersection of Fuller and Washington streets, according to a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation. He died at Boston Medical Center.

“He went to lunch and he had an incredible time. And then later that day, his life was lost,” Saunders said. “Jonathan was well liked by both students and staff. He was energetic. He was bubbly. He was a student in good standing. He was going to be going into the 10th grade next year.”

The anecdote about Dos Santos’s last day at school was among many shared Friday by people mourning the teenager.

Boston police are looking for two suspects. No arrests have been made, a police spokesman said Friday.

One suspect was described as a black male wearing a green hooded sweat shirt with white strings, a white undershirt, blue jeans, and sneakers with yellow soles.


The second suspect was described as a black male wearing a green hooded sweat shirt and light-colored cargo pants with multiple pockets. Witnesses also said he had on dark sneakers, and a baseball cap with cursive writing on the front, a white visor, and a thick white letter on the back.

The instructors who took Dos Santos to lunch Wednesday are thankful for the time they spent with him, Saunders said. Both men visited with his family Thursday and Friday, relatives said.

“In light of everything that happened, they were grateful they were able to spend some quality, special time with just him,” Saunders said.

The high school’s 96 students dressed in purple as a symbol of peace Friday to honor Dos Santos, made pins for him, and wrote condolence letters to his family, Saunders said.

Dos Santos’s basketball coach, Paris Cherry, has said the teenager confided in him two months ago that he was being pressured to join a gang, but did not want any part of it.

Saunders said she did not receive information that Dos Santos was being recruited for a gang, and many students do not understand why he would be the victim of what police called a targeted killing.

“They’re all confused. I think we all are,” she said. “He was really liked by a whole of lot people. He’s not a kid to make enemies.”

One cousin, Maria Santos, said she does not believe that the gunfire was intended for Dos Santos.


“For them to say [he was] targeted, I don’t believe it. It’s not true,” she said. “I’ve never seen Jonathan involved in anything that he shouldn’t have been involved in. . . . We can’t figure it out.”

Santos said her 8-year-old son saw Dos Santos riding on Fuller Street when he was shot.

“When I asked him, ‘What did you see?’ He goes, ‘I [saw] Jonathan riding his bike and he was smiling and then he fell,’ ” she said. “Smiling then falling.”

Dos Santos crashed his bike two houses away from his aunt’s home, according to witnesses.

“I ran to him and I grabbed him,” Santos said. “I just held him and I tried talking to him.”

At the intersection where Dos Santos was shot, people left messages for the teen on poster boards.

Gerlaine Couch, 14, signed one poster after getting off the school bus Friday.

“I don’t really think it’s right,” she said. “I don’t think that person deserved to die.”

“RIP Jonathan,” Couch wrote. “You’ll be missed by many.”

A wake for Dos Santos is set for Tuesday at St. Peter Parish in Dorchester, said the Rev. Jack Ahern, its pastor.

A funeral Mass is scheduled for Wednesday morning at the church, he said.

Laura Crimaldi can be reached at laura.crimaldi@globe.com.