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Ex-hoop star shot to death in fight

Hyde Park man sought by police

Police surrounded a house on Charles Street in Hyde Park last evening after a 21-year-old man was shot to death on a nearby street. The shooting ended Boston's longest period without a homicide this year -- 30 days.
Police surrounded a house on Charles Street in Hyde Park last evening after a 21-year-old man was shot to death on a nearby street. The shooting ended Boston's longest period without a homicide this year -- 30 days. (Globe Staff Photo / Dominic Chavez)

After surrounding and searching a house in Hyde Park for much of yesterday, police obtained a murder warrant for a man suspected in the shooting death of a former Charlestown High School basketball star.

Alray Taylor, who would have turned 22 on Sunday, was fatally wounded yesterday on River Street after an argument escalated into a fistfight, according to authorities, witnesses, and the victim's relatives.

Shortly after the slaying, heavily-armed police went to a home on nearby Charles Street, looking for a suspect they identified as Shane Sinclair, 19, of Hyde Park.

``The suspect was not at that location and remains at large," police said in a statement last night.

Outside the house last night, Sinclair's sister, K.K. Sinclair, said the family has lived there for about 15 years, but only her mother and grandmother reside with her now. Her brother was not there yesterday, she said. She said he cleans for a living and does not carry a gun.

Their mother, Sonya Sinclair, defended her son. ``Shane is not that type of person, he's like a big teddy bear. Just because he's big and tall, people are intimidated by him. My son would never shoot anyone."

Police, who described Sinclair as 6 feet 2 inches and 210 pounds, said information provided to police led investigators to the Sinclair address.

The shooting, which occurred about three blocks away, shattered the peace of the neighborhood known as Sunnyside and brought to an end Boston's longest period without a homicide this year -- 30 days.

The shooting also paralyzed the neighborhood as Boston police shut down River Street for several hours as they looked for evidence.

Last night, police stepped between relatives of the suspect and victim as they nearly clashed outside the Sinclair home.

Taylor's family said they did not know the suspect and had no idea why anyone would shoot the one time power forward and Globe All-Scholastic who for two years attended the University of New Hampshire, where he played on the college's basketball team.

Shemica Taylor, 21, said her brother had no enemies in the neighborhood, where they have lived for about two years. ``He never had any problems around here. His face was just seen at the wrong time," she said.

Taylor, who was known to his family as ``Junior," planned to attend Curry College in Milton this academic year, relatives said.

``He was outgoing, friendly, and very athletic," said Shemica at the family's home on Ellis Street. ``He was known for basketball. And for him, family came first."

Taylor, who graduated in 2002, was the leader of a Charlestown High team that went 27-0 and earned three straight Division 3 state titles. He was MVP in the Boston City League finals for 2001-2002.

According to convenience store owner Jose Liriano, before the shooting, the gunman walked into the shop at River Street and Hillis Road and purchased a Dutch Masters cigar.

Witnesses, area residents, and a law enforcement source with direct knowledge of the investigation said the man left the store, heading north on River Street with Taylor walking behind him. Suddenly, the two men started arguing, and the dispute escalated into a fistfight, which Taylor was winning, they said. What spurred the argument was not known.

``There was a lot of yelling and screaming, and then the fight started," said one witness, who asked that his name not be published .

The shooter pulled out a handgun and fired twice in what witnesses described as ``warning shots," but they said Taylor continued to advance toward the man -- whose third shot struck the 6-foot-3 Taylor in the chest.

He was rushed to Brigham and Women's Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Taylor's death was the latest blow to his family, his sister said. In the past 10 months, both of their parents died, leaving four daughters and two sons. And Taylor's violent end may have been witnessed, in part, by his brother, Joseph, 15, relatives said.

After the shooting, the teenager ran onto Ellis Street, frantically shouting: ``Somebody shot Junior," relatives said.

Shemica said she ran to her brother Alray and ripped off his blood-stained shirt in a vain effort to help as she and others screamed for help.

The shooting, which was reported to police just before 10:30 a.m., occurred less than a mile from the home of Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who stopped briefly to talk with reporters last evening.

``I'm surprised," he said. ``This is the first incident I've seen here in years."

Last night , a makeshift memorial was set up at River Street and Hillis Road; 16 small white candles circled the base of a telephone pole, and a stuffed Bugs Bunny was taped to the pole. A piece of paper taped above the stuffed animal read, ``Rest in peace, Junior."

Jack O'Brien, the victim's coach at Charlestown, said Taylor was ``the most well-liked kid" during his four years at the school. ``People are going to be devastated" at the school, said O'Brien, who now coaches in Lynn .

O'Brien said Taylor treasured his family and was crushed by the deaths of both parents. ``That family has been rocked," O'Brien said. ``He always held them together. He was always the shining light. . . . He was a good example. No trouble in high school. . . . He had a lot of promise ."

Suzanne Smalley of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.

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