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Here’s what you need to know about the ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ Shaun O. Harrison case

Shaun O. Harrison at a 2015 court hearing.
Shaun O. Harrison at a 2015 court hearing.(Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff)

A trial is underway in Suffolk Superior Court for Shaun O. Harrison, the 58-year-old Boston high school dean who allegedly led a secret life of crime and ended up shooting a student who was dealing drugs for him. Here's a brief refresher on the case:

Why were some people surprised by the charges against him?

Many people knew Harrison as a dean at English High School in Jamaica Plain or as a youth minister who mentored gang members and led anger management classes. Students referred to him as "Rev," though it's unclear whether Harrison was ordained as a minister. He often interacted with law enforcement officials. He had a five-year career in the Boston schools.

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"This guy is probably the last person we would expect," Police Commissioner William B. Evans told the Globe after the shooting in 2015. "He was an advocate for antiviolence. Why would he be on our radar screen?"

People who knew Harrison told the Globe that he talked passionately about projects he said would save troubled young men from the streets, but some people wondered if the streets had claimed him instead.

What do prosecutors allege about Harrison’s secret life?

Prosecutors say Harrison, who arrived at English High in January 2015, bragged to students that he owned guns, showed photos of firearms on his phone, boasted about being associated with the Latin Kings, and brought a knife and marijuana into the building. He allegedly told students he had killed someone before.

Searches of his apartment and basement storage unit allegedly uncovered guns, ammunition, and marijuana. Prosecutors said he had a mural of the Latin Kings gang in his apartment and a gang tattoo.

How did Harrison allegedly end up shooting a student?

Prosecutors allege that two weeks before the shooting, Harrison enlisted the 17-year-old he allegedly shot, Luis Rodriguez, to sell marijuana for him in the cafeteria.

The student visited Harrison's apartment on Pompeii Street in Roxbury, where Harrison allegedly bagged marijuana for him to sell, smoked it with him, and let him handle a .380-caliber firearm.

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But Rodriguez wasn't selling enough marijuana, prosecutors said. Displeased, Harrison allegedly ordered another student to beat him up on March 3, 2015.

Later that same day, Harrison allegedly texted the teen and made plans to meet him. Harrison allegedly told the teen he wanted to go somewhere for girls and marijuana.

Harrison allegedly pulled out a firearm and shot Rodriguez in the back of the head, execution-style, then fled. Rodriguez survived. Harrison was arrested the next day and has been in jail awaiting trial since. A 2016 trial was rescheduled after Harrison, who has pleaded not guilty, fired his first lawyer.


Martin Finucane of the Globe staff contributed to this report.