A 15-year-old boy from Roxbury was arrested yesterday and charged with shooting a popular Pop Warner football coach during a practice at a Roxbury park yesterday afternoon.
Myron Stovell, 39, was shot once in the leg and was recovering last night at Boston Medical Center, said Police Superintendent Bruce A. Holloway.
Stovell, the head coach of the Boston Bengals Pop Warner football team, was shot while his team practiced nearby, witnesses said.
The brazen daytime shooting occurred just before 12:30 p.m. at busy Washington Park near 2700 Washington Street. There were about 50 people in the park during the shooting, witnesses said. Holloway said Stovell and the suspect had an exchange of words before the teen approached him with a group of friends and multiple shots were fired.
Friends of Stovell said they were told he was shot because of an incident involving the suspect's dog, but police at a press conference last night at police headquarters said they could not confirm any details. The investigation is ongoing, police said.
"He hit the kid's dog, that's why they did it to him. He hit their dog and they came onto the field," said Jenn Reed, the events coordinator for the Boston Bengals, who was at the practice field when the shooting occurred but did not directly witness it.
Police did not release the name of the 15-year-old, but said he will be charged with assault with intent to murder, unlawful possession of ammunition, and unlawful possession of a firearm. He was being held in custody until his arraignment.
Police would not elaborate on how they were able to develop the case against the teenager and track him down. Holloway would only say the arrest was made "after a very exhaustive investigation con ducted by detectives from Area B2 in Roxbury."
Police also said they believed the suspect was involved in gang activity.
"The victim in this incident is a role model in our neighborhoods," said Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis in a statement. "The individuals responsible for this violent act should be scorned by their families and held in public contempt by the community."
Stovell is a coach for the Boston Bengals, a Pop Warner football team based out in Milton. Known as "Coach Sto," he also serves as the president of Boston Bengals Pop Warner, Inc., according to the team's website. The Bengals organization is composed of five youth football teams for players ages 7-15.
The team's website also says the team was scheduled to have practice at the park at the time of the shooting.
In 2005, Stovell defended the city's reputation against violence when suburban teams wanted to break up the league to avoid playing teams from Boston, citing a fear of shootings in the city. At the time, Stovell told the Bay State Banner newspaper that there had never been an act of violence in his years of involvement. Still, parents would call him asking, "I heard there was a shooting in Boston. Is the game still on?"
"He's great, he's wonderful, he's been doing this over 15 years. He helps all the other coaches help develop the kids," said Reed. Stovell has two children, one of whom is involved in the football organization, Reed said.
Reed said that a representative from Mayor Menino's office was scheduled to attend a meeting for parents and players tomorrow night at the Shelburne Community Center located a short distance from the practice field.
The violence comes at a time when shootings are down throughout the city. From the start of this year until Oct. 8, there have been 230 nonfatal shootings in the city - 36 fewer than at the same time last year.
The teenager will be arraigned tomorrow in Roxbury District Court, police said.
Globe correspondent Sarah Metcalf contributed to this report.