Thursday, June 28, 2007


Cousin seen as accidental killer of boy, 8
Police focus on gun, reject talk of attack
By Suzanne Smalley and Raja Mishra, Globe Staff
In a tragic turn for a violence-prone Boston family, 8-year-old Liquarry Jefferson was shot to death in his Roxbury apartment, and his relatives' initial account that armed intruders had gunned him down was a lie, police and city officials said last night.

Officials said a 7-year-old male cousin playing with a loaded gun accidentally shot Liquarry, a first-grader who loved basketball, pro wrestling, and pizza. His death early yesterday made him the city's youngest fatal shooting victim in five years.

Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis said last night that police have recovered the weapon used in the shooting. Earlier yesterday, two law enforcement officials with knowledge of the investigation said that detectives were testing a gun found hidden in a stairwell inside the Seaver Street apartment building. Investigators are trying to determine who brought the gun into the apartment, Davis said.

"It's hard to call anybody a suspect in this case, except for the person that brought that gun into the house," Davis said at a press conference last night at Logan International Airport, where he met Mayor Thomas M. Menino, returning a day early from a conference of mayors in Los Angeles.

Menino and Davis declined to identify the boy, other than to say he was a cousin of the victim. Under state law, Davis said, the boy is too young to be charged.

Reading Liquarry's tragic story reminded me of a disturbing incident that happened to me years ago when I visited my parents in New York.

It was an early Saturday afternoon and my family and I were in the living room watching wrestling on TV. Even though we knew the matches were fake, we had fun anyway.

Jake the Snake was beating the snot out of some helpless nobody when suddenly we heard four or five loud popping noises followed immediately by the scream of tires biting into asphalt.

The laughter stopped, and everybody in the room was still and quiet. I felt like a deer in the woods frozen by the sound of the unseen hunter's boot stepping on a branch.

Then the voice of my 3-year-old niece eagerly jumped into the silence. "Listen, everybody! Listen! Shooting! Shooting!"

Looking back on that day, I think what disturbed me more than anything was the fact that instead of fear in my niece's voice there was a joyful excitement. My niece was a proud student who was happy because she guessed the right answer.

My God, I thought. When I was her age, the only gunshots I ever heard were on TV cop shows or westerns. This is crazy. People shouldn't live this way.

But years later, people still live this way. And still die. There's too many guns, and it's easy to get 'em. Listening to gunshots isn't the worst thing that can happen to children these days.