Rising basketball star killed just days before first game for Salem State University

Stephen Nartey November 06, 2023
Carl-Hens Beliard. Photo credit: WORCESTER PUBLIC SCHOOLS

A fast-rising Massachusetts basketball star, who played a key role in securing a state championship for his high school, has lost his life in a shooting just days before his scheduled debut as a college freshman.

Authorities have arrested a suspect in connection with the killing, and they have stated that the incident does not seem to be a random act of violence.

The 18-year-old Salem State University freshman Carl-Hens Beliard was discovered with gunshot wounds inside a vehicle at approximately 1:30 a.m. on a Wednesday. He was transported to Salem Hospital but was pronounced dead.

Salem police reaffirmed that the incident does not seem to be a random act of violence, and there is no apparent ongoing threat to the Salem State University community.

On the same night, Missael Pena Canela, an 18-year-old resident of Salem, was arrested and charged with murder, as announced by Essex County District Attorney Paul Tucker’s office. Specific details regarding how he was identified as a suspect have not been disclosed, according to the New York Post.

District Attorney Tucker expressed the tragic nature of the senseless gun violence, adding that the incident does not only impact the victim’s family but also the Salem State University community and beyond.

University President John Keenan conveyed his grief over the tragic and senseless death of Beliard. He explained that the unfortunate incident took place during the city’s Halloween celebration, and Beliard was on the brink of his first college basketball game. President Keenan, speaking both as the head of Salem State University and as a parent, said it was heartbreaking and nightmarish for the entire community and every parent.

The shooting occurred near the school’s athletic facilities, situated across from a parking lot, as reported by the Boston Globe.

Beliard’s mother, Altagrace Beliard, described him as a good kid and revealed that basketball had been his passion since the age of 2. He had a dream of becoming a basketball star and was known for his determination and perseverance, never giving up no matter the challenges he faced.

Beliard, who played as a forward on the men’s basketball team, had a successful high school basketball career as a member of Worcester’s North High School varsity boys basketball team. The team was celebrated in May by Worcester Mayor Joseph Pettey for winning the Division 1 State Championship, achieved through a 73-64 victory over Needham in March following a 24-2 season, as reported by the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

He was the only senior on the team. During a rally to celebrate their championship victory, Beliard described the victory as a dream come true. He attributed the win to the team’s strong chemistry and brotherhood, both on and off the court.

The 6-foot-5 forward was aspiring to study exercise science in college and pursue a doctorate in physical therapy.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: November 6, 2023


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