The 14-year-old boy who allegedly shot and killed his 9-year-old brother inside their Mattapan home on Friday was ordered held on $50,000 bail today during a closed-door hearing in Dorchester Juvenile Court, officials said.
“He’s very scared. He’s very heartbroken,’’ said the boy’s defense lawyer, Michael Doolin.
Doolin added, “He comes from a family who cares very much about him. We look forward to litigating this case in court over the next several months. I ask that you respect the privacy of the family at this time. A mother is very, very broken-hearted, a family that has just been devastated by this tragic, tragic, set of circumstances.’’
Doolin, who spoke briefly to reporters after the hearing, did not respond when asked where the teenager had gotten the gun that killed his brother.
About a dozen people were in the courthouse on behalf of the 14-year-old, including a woman believed to be the mother of both boys. None of the spectators would talk with the crowd of reporters who gathered outside the Washington Street courthouse.
Judge Leslie Harris set the bail for the juvenile, who is charged with involuntary manslaughter and illegal gun possession, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s office said. Another hearing was set for March 3.
Also today, new details of the 14-year-old’s past emerged.
In May, the teenager was sent to a program in Norwood aimed at helping adolescents struggling in their family home, a program known by the acronym of STARR, officials said. STARR is a Department of Children and Families-funded program meaning “stabilization, assessment and rapid-reintegration,” designed to give the teen and families a respite for up to 45 days while a longer-range solution for the problems causing family turmoil is created, according to the DCF website.
The STARR program in Norwood is operated by the Home for Little Wanderers, whose officials today declined to discuss their involvement with the teenager, citing the federal privacy act for patients known as Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act or HIPPA.
According to Norwood police, staff at the Norwood facility contacted them at 3:19 p.m. on May 7, 2013 to report that the teenager had left the program. According to the police, staff reported the teen had arrived earlier in the afternoon on May 7, and was gone a short time later.
Norwood police reached out to those listed as contacts for the teen, but did not locate the boy on May 7, according to Norwood police. Boston police notified Norwood police on May 10 that the teenager had been located, Norwood police said.
Speaking in general terms, Home for Little Wanderers officials said that the only way for children to be sent to the program is by the DCF. The officials also said that staffers do not have authority to physically restrain clients, and that the Norwood facility does not have locked doors or barriers to clients leaving.
“We are not going to stop, physically, a child from running,’’ said Home official Lesli Suggs.“We are not allowed to stop them, a child from running, by putting hands on’’ the children. “But we certainly would call the police and call whoever had [legal] custody of that child.’’
Boston public schools spokesman Brian Ballou said counselors were at the James W. Hennigan Elementary School in Jamaica Plain today, the school attended by the 9-year-old victim. He also said the principal at the Hennigan is talking with the teacher of the young boy’s class to figure out the best way to offer support to his classmates.
“This is a terrible tragedy and we are focused on supporting this family and the school as best we can. At this very moment, hundreds of other parents in our community are also struggling with issues of gun violence and child safety. We all must do more to help them. We are looking at every aspect of this situation because it will offer many lessons about how our community should strengthen coordination to better support any family in crisis,” the school department said in a statement.
The boy’s death alarmed and outraged neighbors and prompted a plea from Boston Mayor Martin Walsh for a gun buyback program.
The boy was shot in the chest and rushed to Boston Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.