BOSTON (AP) — A former high school dean and anti-violence advocate nicknamed “Rev” for his pastor-like influence was sentenced Friday to up to 26 years in prison for shooting and nearly killing a student he had recruited to sell marijuana for him.
Shaun Harrison, 58 was sentenced a day after a Suffolk Superior Court jury convicted him of armed assault with intent to murder and other charges.
Harrison, a dean at Boston English High School, recruited 17-year-old Luis Rodriguez to sell marijuana for him at the school and shot him on March 3, 2015, because he believed the student was not generating enough sales and withholding money, prosecutors said. Harrison joined the school as a dean a few months before the shooting and was fired afterward.
Rodriguez sat in the back of the courtroom and cried quietly along with his family as his aunt took the stand to describe the pain of almost losing him.
“If (Harrison) has the opportunity, I believe from the bottom of my heart he would abuse his power and do this again,” Diana Rodriguez said. “May God forgive you sir because we will not,” she said.
Rodriguez, now 20, testified during the trial that he came from a dysfunctional family and trusted Harrison, who students nicknamed “Rev.”
“He was my counselor. I went to him for everything,” Rodriguez said.
On the day of the shooting, the pair arranged to meet at a gas station where Harrison was supposed to hand over some drugs.
Harrison shot the student in the back of the head and fled on foot, prosecutors said. The bullet entered Rodriguez’s head just under his right ear. It just missed his carotid artery, broke his jawbone and caused nerve damage and hearing loss.
Rodriguez said he was saved by occupants of a passing car, who called 911.
Bruce Carroll, Harrison’s attorney, asked during the trial why Rodriguez did not immediately identify his client as the shooter even though he was conscious and alert.
Carroll urged the judge Friday for a sentence of about eight years to ensure Harrison doesn’t die in prison, noting he has no prior criminal record. But the judge said Harrison’s conduct requires a stiff penalty, saying Harrison acted as an “assassin” and viewed Rodriguez’s life as “worthless.”
“He will be scarred emotionally and impaired physically for the rest of his life,” said Judge Christopher Muse, who sentenced Harrison to 23 to 26 years behind bars.
Rodriguez had told hospital staff he was shot by one of his marijuana customers during a botched drug deal, Carroll said.
“It took me a while to get all my thoughts back together after being shot in the head, sir,” Rodriguez said during cross-examination. “I was in such denial. I knew who did it. Of course I knew who did it.”
This story corrects that Harrison did not work as a dean at the school for five years. He was hired by the school a few months before the shooting.
[Feature Photo: Shaun Harrison via AP/Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office]