Metro

Jury selection underway in trial of former BPS dean accused of shooting student over drug sales

03/03/2015 ROXBURY, MA Shaun Harrison (cq) is arraigned in Roxbury Municipal Court. He is charged with shooting a teenager. (Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe)
Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe
Prosecutors say that before Shaun O. Harrison allegedly shot a 17-yearold, he recruited the teenager to sell drugs in the English High cafeteria.

The story sounds like it was lifted from the “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”

Many people knew Shaun O. 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,” short for the reverend, though it’s unclear whether Harrison was ordained.

But prosecutors say that Harrison had a sinister side.

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While he worked at English High, they say, he allegedly recruited a student to sell drugs for him, and then shot the 17-year-old boy in the head when the teenager’s sales slumped. Authorities allege Harrison belonged to the Latin Kings gang.

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Jury selection in Harrison’s trial on armed assault charges began Wednesday in Suffolk Superior Court and will continue Thursday. The English High student who was shot is expected to testify, Suffolk Assistant District Attorney David Bradley said in court last week.

Harrison, 58, is accused of nearly killing the student on Magazine Street in Roxbury on March 3, 2015. The bullet narrowly missed the teenager’s spinal cord and carotid artery, prosecutors said. Harrison has pleaded not guilty.

Two weeks before the shooting, Harrison enlisted the teenager he allegedly shot to sell marijuana for him in the English High cafeteria, prosecutors said in court papers.

The student visited Harrison’s apartment on Pompeii Street in Roxbury, where Harrison allegedly bagged marijuana for him to sell, smoked the drug with him, and let him handle a .380 firearm, court papers say.

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At school, Harrison 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, prosecutors said.

“The defendant told students that he had killed someone before,” Bradley wrote in court papers. “The defendant told other students he was going to shoot the victim.”

On the day of the attack, the shooting victim went to school, where another student beat him up — at Harrison’s direction — in exchange for marijuana, prosecutors said.

Harrison ordered the attack, according to Bradley, because the victim wasn’t selling enough marijuana. After the fight, a female student confronted Harrison and got in his face, prosecutors said.

“I’ll slap the [expletive] out of you,” Harrison told the female student, according to Bradley. The Boston Public Schools fired Harrison for making that remark, he said. A BPS spokesman declined to comment this week.

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The shooting occurred after school on Magazine Street, officials said. Before the attack, Harrison texted the teen and made plans to meet him at about 7 p.m. near his apartment, prosecutors said.

Harrison told the student he wanted to go to a location for girls and marijuana, court papers said.

Near 100 Magazine St., Harrison allegedly pulled out a firearm and shot the student in the back of the head, execution-style, Bradley said. Harrison allegedly fled while the student stumbled into the road, where he stopped an oncoming car and asked for help.

An occupant of the vehicle called 911 as the wounded teenager held the back of his neck and asked whether he would die, Bradley said.

At Boston Medical Center, the student told detectives that the “Rev” had shot him, court papers said. The shooting was captured on surveillance video, officials said.

Harrison was arrested on March 4, 2015, and has been awaiting trial at the Nashua Street Jail since. The case was initially scheduled to go to trial in 2016, but Harrison fired his first lawyer, writing in court papers that she wasn’t devoting enough time to preparing his defense.

At a hearing last Thursday, Harrison shook his head at times as Bradley outlined some of the evidence against him.

In court papers, Harrison’s lawyer, Bruce W. Carroll, has sought to limit what jurors can hear about his client’s alleged conduct before the shooting. Superior Court Judge Christopher J. Muse ruled jurors won’t hear testimony about Harrison’s alleged ties to the Latin Kings or the shooting victim’s alleged connection to a rival group.

The jury is expected to hear about evidence seized from Harrison’s apartment, basement storage locker, and office at English High. Searches of his apartment and basement storage unit uncovered guns, ammunition, and marijuana, officials said.

The weapon used in the shooting, however, remains elusive.

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.

Carroll, Harrison’s lawyer, declined to comment for this story. The trial is expected to last five to six days.

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