Mayor was at Tobin School when shooting erupted outside

Mayor Martin J. Walsh was visiting a classroom inside the Maurice J. Tobin K-8 School on Tuesday when gunfire erupted outside the building, startling students, employees, and neighbors.

The shooting sparked fear among the Mission Hill school’s students, some as young as 5 years old, who heard the shots. And it raised safety concerns and questions about whether the school district should install cameras around the Tobin for added security.

“We really need cameras,’’ said Sophia Bishop-Rice, who was inside the school when she heard shots. “This happened early in the morning, when children were being educated. You’re not expecting to have people shooting around the school.”


Police responded around 9:45 a.m. to Smith Street and Turquoise Way and secured the scene, said Lieutenant Detective Michael McCarthy, spokesman for the Boston Police Department. The location is near the school and a day-care center.

He said the police report did not mention whether the mayor’s security detail assisted in the initial response to the shooting, “probably because they would have been inside and unaware of the incident until the 911 call was made.”

One neighbor said he and his wife were awakened by what sounded like four or five blasts. The man thought first of his children, he said.

Witnesses told police a man walked up to a parked car and shot up the vehicle. No injuries were reported, no buildings were struck by gunfire, and no arrests were made, McCarthy said.

Bishop-Rice, a program administrator for Boston’s Bridge to Excellence, which operates inside the school, said she was waiting with several students in the lobby around 9:30 a.m. to take pictures with the mayor.

Walsh was expected at about that time to “share leadership and visit classrooms,’’ according to the school’s Twitter feed.

After Walsh arrived, Bishop-Rice snapped pictures, she said. After the mayor and students dispersed into classrooms, shots rang out, she said.


School officials, including the principal, sprang into action, putting the school in emergency “safe mode’’ for about 20 minutes. Doors were locked, and staff secured entrances to prevent unauthorized people from entering, a district spokesman said.

Superintendent Tommy Chang arrived around 10 a.m., just after the school had gone into “safe mode.”

Daniel O’Brien, a spokesman for Chang, described the scene as calm.

“The atmosphere inside the school was peaceful and activities continued as scheduled. Boston Police and school staff did a nice job handling the situation,’’ O’Brien said in an e-mail.

An automated call was made to parents informing them of the situation, O’Brien said.

“There was minimal disruption to the school day as a result of this incident,” a school district statement said, “and school activities continued as scheduled.”

Dujon Rice, chief executive of Boston’s Bridge to Excellence, said that when he learned of the shooting he rushed to the school.

“I was in shock,’’ said Rice, whose mother is Bishop-Rice. “I was scared.”

The students, from ages 5 to 13, expressed their worries to him, he added. “They said they were a little afraid,” he said.

Bishop-Rice, who said she has been advocating for school cameras, recalled a fatal shooting outside the former Marshall Elementary School in 2009, when a man walked into the gym and shot a 22-year-old. She worries about the safety of the Tobin’s students, she said.

“I don’t want something like that to happen at the Tobin,’’ she said.


Tobin School does not have security, but the School Department, in a statement, said it was considering adding cameras as part of its annual safety assessment.

Meghan E. Irons can be reached at meghan.irons@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @meghanirons.