Saturday, 2:15 PM
Boy, 15, fatally shot in Brockton despite antiviolence campaign
By John R. Ellement and Andrew Ryan, Globe Staff
BROCKTON -- A teenager showing off his new illegal handgun inadvertently shot his friend in the head Tuesday evening, prosecutors said, killing the 15-year-old an hour after Governor Deval Patrick met with officials here to discuss the response to a spike in violence.
Olivier Baptiste was described as a popular student at Brockton High School, where he was a sophomore. “He was just a sweetheart of a kid,” said his English teacher, Bob Yuto. “Bright. Great smile. Just the most helpful kid in the world.”
The alleged shooter, William R. Suarez, 18, was arraigned today in Brockton District Court on charges that include manslaughter and illegal possession of a firearm and held on $1 million cash bail by Judge James Sullivan. The families of Baptiste and Suarez wept throughout the brief hearing.
Defense attorney Brian A. Kelley said in court that Suarez did not know the .32 caliber Smith & Wesson revolver was loaded. “This was an accident,” Kelley said.
Prosecutor Shelby Smith said that Baptiste had begged him not to pull the trigger because he could see a bullet in the cylinder. Suarez pulled the trigger once, Smith said, and nothing happened. Baptiste covered his head with his arms, Smith said, and Suarez pulled the trigger a second time, shooting him in the right temple.
School officials said Suarez was a persevering student who struggled academically but worked hard and earned his diploma from Brockton High School. “We are all just kind of walking around numb today,” said Sharon Wolder, an administrator who knew Suarez. “It’s the kind of thing that doesn’t make sense to anybody.”
Many classmates learned of Baptiste’s death when they arrived at school today to take their English MCAS or Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System exam. Out of 1,000 sophomores taking the test, 15 to 20 asked to go home because they were devastated by the shooting, said Principal Susan Szachowicz.
The school also has counselors ready for others who want to talk.
“No 15-year-old should be facing the loss of a friend,” Szachowicz said.
Patrick had come to Brockton Tuesday to be briefed by Plymouth District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz on a "surge" of State Police troopers working for the past several weeks to reduce violent crime. The governor's visit came as 17-year-old Adilson Neves appeared in court to face a murder charge in connection with the fatal shooting of a cab driver in February.
Neves was held without bail. Defense lawyer Arthur L. Kelly of Newton said outside the courtroom that he has not seen any of the evidence against Neves. "He is very nervous and concerned, as anyone would be in his position," Kelly said
His mother, Ruth Resendez, said in the past few weeks that Neves had stopped eating and stopped smiling, which was unusual because he had a buoyant personality. Resendez said she then learned why the oldest of her four children had changed. He told her he was a killer.
" 'I don't plan to do it,' " Resendez quoted her son as telling her in the past four or five days. " 'It was by accident. I'm sorry.' "
In an interview outside Brockton District Court Tuesday, Resendez said her son told her that he shot and killed Edward Conley, a 56-year-old father of two from Bridgewater, who was working for Cowen's Taxi Service when he drove onto Galen Street on Feb. 16.
The Plymouth district attorney said Neves had accomplices who are being sought. "It was a robbery that obviously had gone very bad," Cruz said after Neves was arraigned Tuesday. "It is not over by any means. We are letting people understand that if they choose to commit a crime here in the city of Brockton, they will be caught, they will be prosecuted, and, I assure you, they will be convicted."
Resendez said she shared her account of her son's confession with a family friend, Elisa Fernandes, who was in court yesterday. Fernandes told the Globe that her brother, Jason, 14, was killed in Boston on New Year's Day in 2007. She said she now understands both sides of the murder equation.
"We wish we were there to chase him down and stop him," she said. "We are feeling their [the Conley family's] pain. We hope they accept an apology."
The two women spoke to the Globe after Neves pleaded not guilty in Brockton District Court to one count of first-degree murder in Conley's slaying.
James Conley Jr., the victim's older brother, said his family was compassionate and would not reject the apology offered by Neves's mother.
"It's a little early for us to digest what his mother is trying to say," he said. "Of course, I feel bad for his mother, but I can't feel bad for him."
In court, Lewis A. Armistead Jr., an assistant Plymouth district attorney, said Neves gave a taped confession and was charged with the killing Monday. Armistead said Neves admitted he lured Conley to the dead-end street, jumped in the cab, and shot him in the head.
Armistead also said police recovered a distinctive red and black sneaker, size 10 1/2, at the scene that Neves told police was his. Armistead said DNA testing confirmed that blood stains came from Conley.
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