ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
The Rev. Jane Gould of St. Stephen’s Memorial Episcopal Church is seen during the blessing of Muriel Clement.
By BRIDGET TURCOTTE
LYNN — More than 100 people gathered at Zion Baptist Church to remember Leonardo Clement, 46, who was killed in an Easter shooting in Central Square, and pray for Prince Belin, who was also shot in the attack.
“We pray that in this time of pain, God will fulfill Easter’s promise that out of death and hopelessness new life will emerge,” said the Rev. Brian Flynn of St. Mary’s Parish.
Both men were active leaders for Essex County Community Organization (ECCO) and Zion Baptist Church. Clement headed a Beloved Community Campaign and helped organize a legislative assembly just last week. His mother, Muriel Clement, served as ECCO’s president in the 1990s. Belin has been speaking at events, telling his story to fight what he calls an an unjust bail system.
According to the organization, the men were walking home from Easter services when they were gunned down.
The two men were shot in front of the LynnArts building at 25 Exchange St. on Easter Sunday, April 16. Clement was taken to Union Hospital where he was pronounced dead. The other man, who was identified by police only as a 41-year-old man, but identified by ECCO as Berlin, was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital and is expected to survive.
“Lenny’s life — it wasn’t something to be politicized,” said the Rev. Annie Belmer of Zion Baptist. “This is not usual for us. This is not something we get used to. When the mayor and others say that crime is like a stumbling block and say that this isn’t Lynn — as if we aren’t Lynn. This is where we live, this is our community. Those statements sounded like Lenny and his friend deserved what they got because they might have known these people.”
Clement’s friends Bob and June St. Pierre described him to be “peaceful and gentle” and musical with a good sense of humor.
“He was quiet but funny,” said Bob St. Pierre. “You had to get to know him to get his sense of humor. You’d walk away and a few minutes later you’d get the joke.”
Clement sang in the church’s choir and played in a steel drum band called the Crystal Pan Jammers.
“Lenny never deserved to be shot,” St. Pierre said. “He wasn’t at the wrong place at the wrong time. The guy who shot him was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Lenny never did anything to deserve this.”
Belmer called Clement an intellectual person who was very self sufficient, and, though he was legally blind, never let his disability define him.
“Right now, his eyes are seeing the glory,” she said.
The crowd broke into groups to brainstorm ways to ensure that people do not stand alone and discuss what needs to be done to prevent senseless acts of violence in the community.
Flynn, who is also the president of ECCO, announced a new No One Stands Alone Fund. Money raised will assist in Clement’s funeral and burial services, support Berlin in his recovery, and, in the future, will support community members in crisis in Clement’s name.
Meanwhile, Massachusetts State Police announced Thursday afternoon they are searching for a suspect in the shooting. William A. Cash, also known as William S. Banks, is wanted by the Essex County State Police Detective Unit and the Lynn Police Department Detective Unit.
The 44-year-old is described by police as a black man with black hair and brown eyes. He is 5 feet 10 inches tall and about 330 pounds, police said. He has ties to Boston and the Lynn area, as well as Florida, police said. He may be driving a silver or gray 2005 Chrysler 300 with Massachusetts plates 3FS819.
The gun involved in the shooting has not been recovered and police warn that Cash should be considered armed and dangerous.
Donations to the No One Stands Alone Fund can be made at youcaring.com/NoOneStandsAlone.
Bridget Turcotte can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte