Hollywood loves to portray pastors and church leaders as men with dark secrets lurking behind their work for God, and sometimes a story comes along that fits that narrative. This week, a Boston pastor and school administrator shot a 17-year-old in the back of the head in an apparent dispute over the pastor’s drug dealing operation.
To the kids at Boston’s English High School, where the Rev. Shaun O. Harrison Sr. was considered the dean of students, the pastor and prominent antigang activist was known by the nickname that adorned his office door: “Rev.”
And that, police say, is how a 17-year-old student found bleeding from a bullet fired into the back of his head identified the man who shot him Tuesday.
“Rev,” police and prosecutors say, was leading a double life.
Arraigned in Roxbury District Court on Thursday, Harrison, 55, is accused of attempting to execute a student he had been mentoring at English, but was also allegedly selling marijuana as part of the pastor’s drug operation.
Through an attorney, Harrison denied the charges.
In court, Suffolk Assistant District Attorney David Bradley described the alleged attack as an “execution-style shooting” of a teen who survived despite being shot behind the ear.
The Boston Globe describes a scenario that reads like a movie plot featuring henchmen with matching tattoos doing the bidding of their dealer, a man who led anti-gang efforts within his community.
Naturally, news of Harrison’s arrest brought out a chorus of incredulity from people who served alongside the pastor.
“I was stunned beyond description,” Rev. Dr. Gregory Groover, pastor of the Charles Street AME Church where Harrison attended services, told Fox2Now. “He seemed to consistently care with a deep heart for saving young people who were in the streets or gang related, prison-involved. That was the population that his life seemed to center around.”
“It doesn’t sound like our Shaun,” Rev. Opal Adams, an associate pastor at the Roxbury church, told the Boston Globe. “It’s not the character of the man we knew.”
The school system released Harrison from his position at the school.
Image courtesy of the Boston Globe.