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Malden police investigate possible gang ties with teen accused in shooting

Posted by Matt Byrne  September 11, 2012 03:55 PM

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Shooting suspect held without bail - Malden, Massachusetts - Malden Observer.png

pool photo/Malden Evening News

Tyrell Berberena Jr. during his arraignment Thursday in Malden District Court.

MALDEN --The 17-year-old Malden man accused of critically wounding  another teen during a shooting in a restaurant parking lot Monday morning was arraigned Tuesday in Malden District Court, where he was ordered held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing.

According to  police reports obtained by the Globe, Tyrell Berberena Jr., also known as "Jr. Tate," is alleged to be a member of the Tiny Rascals Gang, and the shooting was allegedly a result of an altercation that occurred about five months ago involving a woman at the 7-Eleven on Salem Street.

District Court Judge Dominic Paratore revoked the bail for Berberena, who appeared in court Tuesday, shackled and silent, where a not-guilty plea was entered on his behalf by public defender Cheryl McGillivray on charges of armed assault to murder and possession of a high-capacity firearm. The dangerousness hearing is scheduled for Friday.

The victim, who was not identified, remains in critical but stable condition at Massachusetts General Hospital. The victim was struck by one bullet that lodged in his aorta, the largest vein in the body that connects the heart to the lower extremities and major organs. Doctors are fearful that its removal would cause more damage, the prosecutor said.

Berberena's mother, identified by police in the report as Stephanie Moore, showed up at the scene of the shooting Monday and asked what was going on, and if her son was involved. She showed police a photo that matched a photo of the person known to witnesses as Jr. Tate, who was alleged to have pulled the trigger. She said she last saw her son Friday, and that she was told he was staying at Anthony's house, referring to Anthony Ellison.

The police report said Berberena was found in a back stairwell at 5 Wyeth St., where Anthony Ellison and his family live on the second floor. Moore told police she believed her son was staying at "Anthony's" since Friday.

A witness, who was not identified in the police report, told police that Ellison and Berberena had seen each other last Thursday when the witness helped arrange for them to buy some marijuana together. The witness said that with Berberena and two others, they went to Ellison's house on Wyeth Street where the group consumed some beer and marijuana together.

At Tuesday's court hearing, a prosecutor said in court that Berberena allegedly shot at two young men in the parking lot of the Sun Kong restaurant on Eastern Avenue. In a previous statement by the office of Middlesex District Attorney Gerard T. Leone Jr., police said Berberena knew the two young men he arranged to meet in the restaurant parking lot.

Outside the courthouse, friends and family of the accused and the victim gathered separately. A woman who identified herself as Berberena's mother and is named in police reports as Stephanie Moore said she was in disbelief that Berberena, who she said attends school in Chelmsford, is capable of the crime for which he is accused.

"That's not my son at all," said the woman, who said she was from Cambridge.  "He's very quiet. He's a quiet person. Yeah, he presents that bad, tough image, but deep down inside he's a goofball."

Moore said her "heart goes out" to the victim's mother, who stood across the street.

The victim's mother, who gave her name only as Diane, said she was at the scene of the crime Monday on her way to pick up her son at the home of a friend located at 5 Wyeth St., where police arrested Berberena.

Told of Berberena's mother's sentiment of empathy for her gravely injured son, Diane said she saw Berberena as he was led away in handcuffs.

"That's [expletive]," Diane said. "The kid had a smile on his face when he got arrested."

In an interview Monday, Malden Mayor Gary Christenson, asked if the city was host to gangs, demurred.

"That's not a question I can answer, that's more -- the police would know best whether we have gangs, and when I ask that question, [the police] don't believe we do," the mayor said.  "There are impact players that the police have identified and are watching."

Matt Byrne can be reached at

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