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Slain Dorchester teen is mourned with song and tears

Laura Dos Santos (center)  followed her son's casket from the church.
Laura Dos Santos (center) followed her son's casket from the church. Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

She shared a bond with her brother, Jonathan, that was “unbreakable.” So when it was time for Jennifer Dos Santos to say goodbye Thursday at St. Peter Parish in Dorchester, the 9-year-old girl dressed in white composed her sorrow into song.

“We’ve come a long way from where we began,” Jennifer and her two young cousins sang in a performance of Wiz Khalifa’s song, “See You Again.” “Oh, I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again.”

When the young trio finished, mourners at the teen’s funeral Mass broke into tears and applause.

“He always protected her,” Jasmine Santos, 19, a cousin, said during her eulogy. She quoted Jennifer as saying Jonathan “was my favorite brother, even though he was my only brother.”

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“Today we are not saying goodbye to Jonathan,” Santos said. “Goodbye is forever. Instead, we will see you later.”

Dos Santos was killed, allegedly by two other teenagers, while he was riding his bike to his aunt’s house on Fuller Street on June 10 in Dorchester.

Dushawn Taylor-Gennis, 16, and Raeshawn Moody, 14, pleaded not guilty at their arraignments Monday and will be tried as adults. They are being held without bail on murder and firearms charges.

Prior to the Mass, Dos Santos lay in a white casket dressed in a white shirt and surrounded by tokens of his sports career, including a plaque he received from a city soccer league and his Pop Warner jersey.

The casket was closed during the service. Dos Santos’s mother, Laura, dressed in white, draped herself over the coffin and sobbed as the Mass ended.

Dos Santos’s basketball coach, Paris Cherry, sat in the pews with the teen’s blue and white Boston Tigers jersey and a trophy his team won in Pennsylvania. Cherry has said Dos Santos confided in him two months ago that he was being pressured to join a gang, but did not want any part of it.

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“You always second-guess yourself,” he said. “I feel guilty for all us really. It’s a community issue.”

The Rev. Richard “Doc” Conway delivered the homily in Portuguese and English. Dos Santos’s family worships at St. Peter’s and Dos Santos attended its Teen Center.

“Jesus might say to us today, ‘I want all of you to make good choices, good decisions.’ This isn’t easy to do all the time,” Conway said. “Jonathan was making the right decisions. He was involved in sports, not gangs.”

The reverend decried violence.

“You do not need a gun to gain respect,” Conway said. “We pray today that all of us may live in peace. We pray this peace will not be taken from us by any more acts of violence in our city.”

Outside the church, Conway reflected on the suffering in his neighborhood.

“We have a ninth-grader hang himself down the street there. Right over here you have the 7-year-old kid shot,” he said. “Upstairs in that house there’s a kid that’s in jail for shooting a 14-year-old, [Nicholas] Fomby-Davis. Behind that is a house where a 23, 24-year-old committed suicide.”

“We’ve done the marches and we’ve done everything,” Conway said. “It’s got to start at home.”

Jose Morton, cofounder of the Boston Tigers basketball team, said he met Dos Santos in 2011 at the Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center.

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He said Dos Santos’s mother asked him to watch her son, telling him, “I just want some other voice in his ear that’s positive.”

“I said, ‘Sure. Not a problem,’ ” Morton said.

He said Dos Santos never mentioned the teens accused of killing him, but did worry about his safety.

“He stressed to me that he can’t take the bus to certain places so if we could give him rides home, we definitely gave him rides home,” Morton said.

Yanniel Balbuena, 16, said Dos Santos focused on basketball.

“He said he [didn’t] want to be a gangbanger,” he said. “He just wants to be a good basketball player.”

Christian Arthur, 15, a basketball teammate, said the funeral was “sad.”

“You shouldn’t watch any mother cry and scream for her son,” he said.


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