Boy, 13, shot dead near his home; not seen as target

Steven Odom, 13, was just steps from his Evans Street door last Thursday evening when he was gunned down, shot in the head by an unknown assailant. Within minutes, he was pronounced dead at Boston Medical Center, making the middle school student the 52nd homicide victim of the year.

Boston Police said this week that they do not believe Odom was the intended target of the shooting.

"The information right now suggests that he was struck accidentally by somebody who was firing at someone else," said Elaine Driscoll, a spokesperson for the BPD.

Police say they have increased patrols in the Morton Street area near the scene and were going door-to-door with brochures urging residents to make use of an anonymous tip line to help track the killer. Driscoll said that there have already been some "promising leads" from tips received through the system. The CrimeStoppers Tip Line is 1-800-494-TIPS (8477) or text 'TIP' to CRIME (27463).

Danny Hardaway, who owns the Final Touch boutique on Morton Street, around the corner from the shooting scene, says that merchants there are worried that the shooting is a signal that a new street gang may be active in the area. Hardaway says an August shooting in front of Morton Pizza, which left a young man wounded, prompted an emergency meeting of the Morton Village Board of Commerce, which Hardaway chairs.

"Everybody is on alert here on Morton Street. All eyes here are open and we're paying close attention. We feel this is a gang trying to move into the territory. This is the second shooting in less than a month-and-a-half," Hardaway said. "The sad thing is this kills the development we're trying to do in this whole area, trying to get other businesses to come in."

Odom is the latest teen victim to fall victim to murder in recent months in the vicinity of the Morton Street corridor. In June, police discovered the body of 17 year-old Lorna Road resident Mariotis Harris in the woods near his home. He had been shot to death. No one has been arrested in connection to Harris' murder.

Earlier this year, a 40 year-old man was murdered in his home at 52 Evans St., allegedly by his wife, 35 year-old Sharon Fitzpatrick, who was charged with stabbing Sylvester Mitchell to death after an argument on May 5.