The dean of a Boston high school known by his students for promoting anti-violence initiatives was sentenced to 26 years in prison for shooting one of his students in the head.
Prosecutors said Shaun Harrison, 58, shot a 17-year-old student whom he recruited to deal marijuana in school because of a dispute over lagging sales, despite putting on a “pious-like” image for his students, USA Today reported.
Harrison put a .380 to the back of the teen’s head, shot him, and left him for dead as the two walked down a snow-covered street in 2015, prosecutors said.
But the victim, Luis Rodriguez, did not die. He flagged a passing vehicle for help and was taken to the hospital. The bullet broke his jawbone, causing him to suffer nerve damage and hearing loss. While in the hospital, he uttered the word “Rev”—a nickname Harrison’s students gave the dean because of his pious demeanor and history as a youth minister.
“You professed to be a man of religion, you promote yourself as one who can mentor troubled youth … and yet you violated their safety by bringing drugs and violence to them,” Judge Christopher Muse said at the 58-year-old former dean’s sentencing.
Harrison began working as the dean at English High in January 2015, just two months before authorities arrested him on attempted murder charges.
The morning Harrison shot Rodriguez, officials say he got into a dispute with a female student and shoved her. School officials said later that they planned to fire Harrison based on the incident with the female student, but the police charged him with attempted murder the next day.
Harrison denied the allegations against him while in jail awaiting trial, adding that the claims of him living “a double life” were not true.
“I am not a gang member. I’m the Rev,” he told WHDH in 2015. “For me to be accused of something like that, all of a sudden at 55. … It’s like a nightmare, and you are trying to wake up from this nightmare.”
Rodriguez, who is now 20 years old, broke out into a quiet sob in the back of the courtroom while his aunt described the moment she learned her nephew nearly died at the hands of someone he trusted.
“May God forgive you, sir, because we will not,” Diana Rodriguez said between sobs.