Boy, 13, shot in Roxbury while walking to church, mother says

A 13-year-old boy was in critical condition late Friday night after being shot while walking to church for choir practice on Humboldt Avenue in Roxbury, his mother and police said.

Shirley Clarke said her son Gabriel attends youth choir practice at 7 p.m. every Friday at the Berea Seventh Day Adventist Church on Seaver Street, a few blocks from his home. Clarke said she also has choir practice at the same time, and attends an earlier Bible study session.

She said she was at the church Friday night and noticed Gabriel was absent. At around 7:10 p.m., she said, she sent her son a text message.


“I texted him and I told him he should be at church,’’ Clarke said at Boston Medical Center, where her son was being operated on. “And about 10 minutes after, I got a call from the police and they told me he was in an accident.’’

Clarke said police told her Gabriel was walking on Humboldt Avenue when a car pulled up and someone shot him.

At the scene of the shooting, near the intersection with Homestead Street, Boston police Captain John Danilecki said a 13-year-old boy was shot once in the stomach while crossing the street at approximately 7 p.m. He was taken to BMC for surgery, and was in critical condition Friday night, Danilecki said.

Danilecki urged anyone who may have seen or heard something to call police. Officers scattered around the intersection Friday night, searching the area as a steady rain fell.

A few residents interviewed by a reporter around the scene Friday night said they did not know what happened. The intersection of Humboldt Avenue and Homestead Street is just a couple blocks away from the Adventist church.

Clarke said she knew nothing more than what the police told her. She said the church is a fixture in her son’s life.


“Gabriel is a junior deacon,’’ she said. “He’s involved in a lot of things at the church.’’

A pastor and some fellow youth choir members, including Gabriel’s 17-year-old sister, were in the emergency room with him Friday night, his mother said.

Gabriel returned home from the Mary E. Curley School, where he is in the eight grade, shortly before Clarke left home to go to her Bible study program at about 4 p.m., she said. Clarke wanted to take Gabriel with her, she said, but he looked tired and hungry so she let him stay home to rest.

Gabriel’s sister went straight to the church from school, where she had stayed late, their mother said.

When they walk to church, Clarke said she and her children always take the same route up Humboldt Avenue.

She said Gabriel was born in New York, but the family lived for some time on the island of Nevis in the Caribbean. In 2007, the Clarke family moved to Boston, she said, because she suffers from a herniation in her brain stem that requires continuing treatment at Boston Medical Center.

Though just 13, she said Gabriel is already a pillar of the household.

“He’s the only man in my house, and he’s very protective of me,’’ Shirley said.

Shantia Rossetti, 30, said she lives nearby the shooting and walked down to the scene Friday night to find out what happened. She said she was shocked to hear a child was wounded.

“It’s crazy because my son is 13 and I wouldn’t want that to happen to him,’’ Rossetti said. “It could have been one of his friends, it could have been him, it could have been anything, and it’s crazy because it’s always happening around here.’’