In some ways, we all live secret lives. The side that we show to the world is rarely the exact face that we see in the mirror each day. We amend it, improve it, so that the world will look better on it. Yet sometimes, even with our best efforts, that face finds a way to be revealed.
Fifty-five-year-old Reverend Shaun Harrison was a pillar of his community. He was a minister, a high school dean, and a staunch anti-drug and anti-violence advocate. Everyone loved Shaun, from his students to his fellow school workers. But Shaun had a secret life, one that would shake the faith and foundations of his Boston community…
Reverend Shaun Harrison wasn’t always a man of the cloth, but he had always been a very spiritual man. He attended seminary a bit later in life and eventually became a reverend. Over the years, Shaun was part of many parishes in his hometown of Boston including Charles Street A.M.E. Church and Mt. Calvary Baptist Church.
Harrison was always a fan of giving back to the community, in particular, those poor young people who needed education and positive role models to set them on the path to success. Shaun worked at a few elementary and middle schools before joining the Boston public school system in 2010. There, he found himself the Dean of the Academy at English High School…
Help the Youth
Harrison was always looking to help young people to better themselves. If his students were in trouble, he told them they could come and see him at any time of the day, even at his home, and he would do his best to help. Neighbors would often see some young people coming and going from Rev. Harrison’s apartment.
The reverend was quoted as saying, “These boys, they really take care of me and I try and take care of them if I can. If I don’t eat they make sure that I have some food in the house, I love hanging around these boys. man. They keep me young…” It was a mutual respect that he shared with his students. Well, most of them anyway…
On March 3, Rev. Shaun Harrison was involved in an altercation with a student. A female student had become belligerent to him and before he could stop himself, Harrison shoved her away from him violently. It was a bad situation all around and the incident led his school board and fellow administrators to discuss the matter in a formal capacity: mainly because it wasn’t the first time this had happened.
The March 3rd incident was not Harrison’s first strike. He had already been reprimanded twice in 2012 for several other incidents involving the students. He had pushed a student at Green Academy and had been known to make inappropriate comments to students in the past. The district was even preparing to fire him over the new incident…
And they would have surely done so, had they not received some confirmation that very day that Rev. Harrison had been involved in something far worse. In fact, their confirmation came in the way of a telephone call from the Boston police, indicating that one of their administrators had been jailed and was awaiting his arraignment.
As it turned out, security cameras had caught video of a man, roughly the same build as Rev. Harrison, shooting one of the high school’s students in the back of the head. The student had been mortally wounded and the police went straight out to look for anyone who could meet the description of the shooter. That search led them to Shaun Harrison…
Luckily, Harrison’s shot wasn’t fatal, and the victim survived his near-fatal encounter to tell the tale. Once he was awake, the young man told police that he had been working as a drug dealer for Rev. Harrison for the past month. He had been given the offer to sell for Harrison following an altercation with a fellow student which required administrative mediation from the dean himself.
Month in Service
The victim went on to further explain that the Rev. Harrison had been a member of the Latin Kings and was not helping to keep drugs and violence off the streets at all, but had in fact been helping to arm fellow gang members and flood his neighborhood with cocaine and marijuana. It beggared belief of course, but soon some things began to fall into place…
The shooting was, in fact, one of many gang-related executions Harrison had performed during his other job and not the one where he preached to the community about the sanctity of life or the value of education. No, Shaun Harrison was a drug enforcer for the Latin Kings and was responsible for getting the new dealers on the street and keeping them in line.
Meanwhile, at the same time as Harrison was getting fingerprints and mugshots taken, a team of Latin Kings was headed to Shaun’s apartment to get rid of any evidence of wrongdoing that might exist there. Unfortunately, law enforcement was a few steps ahead of them and had already broken in to find what amounted to a treasure trove of guilty proof…
Trove of Guilt
Officers found a 9mm semiautomatic firearm, a .45-caliber semiautomatic firearm, ammunition, drug paraphernalia, and a large amount of marijuana and cocaine. Even without the attempted murder, Rev. Harrison was going to be sent away for a rather long time. At the same time, the high school decided to go forward with their plans to terminate Harrison as administrator.
How’d He Do It?
There were still so many questions though, for one, how did he get away with it for so long? The answer was pretty simple, as an outspoken anti-violence activist, school employee, and an active minister, most people don’t usually suspect you’re up to anything worse than say, stealing ketchup packets from Wendy’s now and again. His anti-drug stance provided not just the perfect cover but the perfect access…
As it turned out, anti-drug and anti-violence activists spend a lot of time associating with known gang members hoping to “dissuade” them from their wicked ways. This provided Harrison with opportunity and even when authorities began to investigate those gang members, they paid no attention to the kindly old minister who was only trying to help.
Niani Mendes, a former student, said Rev. Harrison used to work as a community field coordinator at her school. He was generally well-liked and friendly with students, as he had been in the high school. Only this time, he was apparently a little too friendly. He was always flirting and asking students for their number. It was the first sign something was up…
Other students interviewed after the fact explained that Harrison had actually spoken about his association with the Latin Kings long before he was arrested. He boasted of being a member of the gang and spoke about members of the gang whom he associated with. Three of which were already on police radar.
Druggie and Killer
The police didn’t need a smoking gun at this point because they had about seven already, including Harrison’s actual smoking gun from the shooting. The drugs and guns at his place only made his double life that much more tragic. Despite his anti-drug speeches, he was an abuser. Despite preaching nonviolence, he was a potential killer. The truth shook his neighborhood…
In the end, prosecutors filed drug and gun charges against Harrison. City, school, and police officials met to discuss the case, trying to get everything straight and find any holes that would have led any of them to believe something was amiss. He had been very careful and had maintained his cover for decades.
Last Guy You’d Expect
Rev. Harrison was the absolute last guy that any of his friends, neighbors, co-workers, even police would think to be involved in such a violent and dangerous enterprise or organization. Yet there was no denying it. He had gone through life with no criminal record and no indication that he harbored these dark feelings, and it crushed his students to learn of this.