Authorities announced an arrest Monday afternoon in connection with the fatal shooting of a 13-year-old boy about a week ago.
Tyler Lawrence, of Norwood, was shot multiple times in what police said was a "targeted" shooting in broad daylight outside his grandparents' house in Boston's Mattapan neighborhood on Jan. 29. He died of his injuries at the scene.
Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden announced at a press conference Monday that 34-year-old Csean Skerritt was arrested Sunday on a separate charge of fentanyl distribution and that his office has also secured an arrest warrant charging Skerritt with first degree murder and gun related charges in connection with Tyler's death. He is being detained on the drug charge pending a Feb. 14 court hearing and is expected to be arraigned on the murder and gun charges in the near future.
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"Tyler Lawrence's family has shown extraordinary courage and strength during this time of loss," Hayden said. "I met with his mother last week and attended his memorial service yesterday. I can personally attest to the enormous love and admiration for Tyler from everyone he knew and touched."
According to court documents, Skerritt agreed to sell 50 grams of fentanyl in exchange for $1,500 on Feb. 1, four days after Tyler's shooting. That charge alone calls for a sentence of at least 5 years and up to 40 years in prison.
Hayden didn't say what led investigators to charge Skerritt with Tyler's killing. He did say Skerritt was known to police and had a prior criminal record.
"There's still a lot we do not know about this terrible crime. It's still an ongoing investigation... We do know a 13-year-old was gunned down on a city street on an early Sunday afternoon, and we know a monstrous event has shaken our city to its core. We hope today will be the first step in the pursuit of justice — justice for Tyler Lawrence, justice for his family and justice for this entire city."
"The murder of a 13-year-old person is a nightmare for any parent in any city at any time," added Boston Police Commissioner Michael Cox. "We want to send condolences to the family, but more importantly, hopefully this provides some sort of justice to them."
Skerritt was charged in 2015 with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Julien Printemps at a Dorchester convenience store on Jan. 26, 2014, according to then-District Attorney Rachael Rollins. Hayden said Monday that a jury had found Skerritt not guilty in November of 2017.
"To the Lawrence family and to all of Tyler's loved ones and the community, I am so sorry for your loss," Mayor Michelle Wu said. "We know that the space, the pain, the hole in your lives that has been ripped apart won't be filled by any announcement or press conference. We know that Tyler was a shining young child at 13 years old with a whole life ahead of him that so many have been pouring into and were excited at every step of the way to see his growth and all that lay ahead. We are all robbed of that possibility and potential that we know he would step into. Today is about a measure of accountability and a measure of justice that we hope will begin to solidify the healing process."
"Our family is relieved and grateful that Boston Police and the District Attorney's Office have taken the first steps toward justice for our beloved Tyler, who was taken from us last Sunday morning as he walked near his grandparents' house," the victim's mother, Remy Lawrence, said in a statement. "We would like to thank all of the investigators, the detectives, and the elected officials for their continued support for our family, for their integrity and their persistence. We would also like to thank the Town of Norwood, the Norwood Public Schools, Keisha Desir and all of the family, friends and supporters who came together yesterday to honor and remember our Tyler. Those who have stood with us have displayed an immense outpouring of love and support and we are so grateful for it at this difficult time."
She added that her family would not give further comment as the police investigation continues.
The arrest announcement came a week after Remy Lawrence first spoke publicly about the shooting, making an emotional plea for change.
"Everybody in this city should be outraged! And if you're not, what's wrong?" she said. "I just left a funeral home for my 13-year-old son!"
Tyler's family has said the teen was going on a walk after leaving his grandparents' house when he was fatally shot about a block away.
"He was walking," his mother said. "He was walking because he wanted to go for a walk."
If you have been impacted by homicide, survivor outreach services are available. Contact the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute at 617-825-1917 Ext. 119 or visit the website LDBPeaceInstitute.org for more information.
Family, friends and community members gathered on Sunday in Norwood to take part in celebrating Tyler's life.
At one point there were so many people who showed up to offer their condolences to his family that a line stretched all the way down from the door to the event to the street. Blue pins and sweatshirts were seen on attendees with Tyler's name.
Tyler was a sixth-grade student at Coakley Middle School in Norwood.
Rev. Kevin Peterson, founder of The New Democracy Coalition, said they were pleased to learn of an arrest in Tyler's death, but called for more action.
"The arrest of the alleged perpetrator follows expressed outrage from a community besieged by violence that is disproportionate to the rest of the city. Tyler Lawrence's life was snatched away within the boundaries of what many in the Black neighborhoods call a triangle of death. Mattapan and Dorchester are where the majority of murders take place and we continue to demand that law enforcement devise specific strategies that speak to the unprecedented amount of homicide that pertains to the city's black community. Crime may be down in Boston overall but it rages in the Black community and we are morally obligated to respond to it in ways that treat this violence like an and epidemic and an emergency," Peterson wrote in a statement.
Norwood Superintendent of Schools David Thomson issued a statement last week offering condolences to Tyler's family, friends and loved ones "following this senseless tragedy."
"Tyler Lawrence was well-loved and a valuable member of our Coakley community," Thomson said. "His bright smile was on display every morning, and he made friends wherever he went. He was an avid basketball player, and enjoyed sports and being outside."