By John R. Ellement and Tracy Jan, Globe Staff
A 20-year-old New York City man surrendered to Cambridge police this evening and will now be charged with murdering a Cambridge man inside a Harvard University residence hall Monday afternoon, Middlesex prosecutors said tonight.
The man was identified as Jabrai Jordan Copney and he is expected to be arraigned in Cambridge District Court Friday in connection with the murder of 21-year-old Justin Cosby, according to a statement released by Middlesex District Attorney Gerard T. Leone Jr.
Cosby was shot inside the J entryway of Kirkland House around 5 p.m. After being shot, he ran up Dunster Street to Mt. Auburn Street where he collapsed. He died Tuesday morning in Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
Copney is not a Harvard University student, but investigators were probing whether Cosby was selling marijuana to Harvard students as they sought his killer. Copney is charged with murder, accessory after the fact to murder, and unlawful possession of a firearm.
Prosecutors said in the statement that they learned Copney "was visiting friends at the campus. It is alleged that the defendant, along with others, confronted Cosby in a common area inside the Kirkland House. During the course of the confrontation, multiple shots were fired. One of those shots struck Cosby, resulting in his death. It is believed that the defendant and Cosby were known to one another.''
Cosby's death has led some students to rethink their stance on illegal drugs being sold or consumed, students said today.
‘‘Since the shooting was tied to something going on with Harvard
undergraduates, it’s become a Harvard problem, and the university is going
to have to address it properly,’’ said Timothy Turner, a senior. ‘‘There
were students put in danger. That is something the university has to pay
attention to. You don’t want this to continue to expand and become a larger
problem in the future.’’
The Harvard Crimson reported today that a Harvard student, whose
identity was withheld by the student newspaper, had revealed to the paper
two text messages traced to a cellphone registered to a woman with the
same name as Cosby’s mother. The messages, sent by a man the student knew only as Justin, purportedly made explicit references to popular strains of marijuana.
University officials would not answer questions yesterday about
drugs on campus and directed all questions about the shooting investigation
According to court records, Cosby had at least one minor brush with
law enforcement when he was arrested by Cambridge police in 2007 and
charged with possession of marijuana after a small plastic bag and two
marijuana cigarettes were found in his car. The drug possession charge was
continued without a finding and then dismissed in June 2008 because Cosby
had no new arrests during that time, records show.
Cosby’s mother, Denise, did not return calls to her home today,
but the family issued a statement defending the reputation of her son, a
2005 graduate of Cambridge Rindge and Latin School.
‘‘He was not a ‘hoodlum’ or ‘gangster,’’’ the family said. ‘‘Justin
was a fashion trendsetter, basketball player, student, and self-admitted
‘mama’s boy.’ He was looking forward to picking up new studies, furthering
his aspirations to become successful, and marrying his longtime
A private wake and funeral service will be held for Cosby Saturday.
Nearly a dozen Harvard students interviewed yesterday said they do
not believe drugs are a pervasive problem on campus, just an element woven
into the fabric of undergraduate life and something non-users could easily
ignore, until this week.
‘‘People make personal choices, and as long as they don’t harm other
people, they can do whatever they want,’’ said Alan Ibrahim, a sophomore
and a resident of Kirkland House who attended high school with Cosby but
did not know him. ‘‘But to actually see something go bad, it’s really
A Harvard professor and a housemaster at a different residence hall
who did not want to be named because of the sensitive nature of the
investigation said the university has a zero-tolerance policy toward
Those caught with them are usually disciplined internally, with the
possibility of expulsion.
‘‘This is of tremendous concern,’’ the housemaster said. ‘‘Events
like this underscore the issues of both physical security and the fact that
drug abuse is occurring within the undergraduate population to some degree,
and we have to remain vigilant about it.’’
Other students emphasized that the shooting shows Harvard is not an
‘‘We have this terrible stigma that just because we go to Harvard we
must be immaculate,’’ said sophomore Brad Paraszczak, who also lives in
Kirkland. ‘‘Harvard is not in a bubble. We have problems as well, and this
could have happened anywhere.’’
Maria Cramer of the Globe staff contributed to this report.
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