SALEM, MA – A promising Massachusetts basketball star, Carl-Hens Beliard, met a tragic end just days before his debut as a college freshman. The 18-year-old freshman at Salem State University was discovered with gunshot wounds inside a vehicle around 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday. Despite efforts to save him, Beliard was pronounced dead at Salem Hospital.
Authorities have apprehended a suspect, 18-year-old Missael Pena Canela, of Salem, on a murder charge. The incident does not appear to be a random act of violence, according to Salem police. Details regarding how the suspect was identified have not been disclosed.
The shooting occurred in close proximity to the university’s athletics facilities, unfolding during the city’s Halloween celebration. Beliard was poised to participate in his first college basketball game.
Salem State University President John Keenan expressed his profound sorrow, referring to the tragedy as a heartbreak for the community and every parent’s worst nightmare. Carl-Hens Beliard, a forward on the men’s basketball team, was celebrated for his pivotal role in Worcester’s North High School varsity boys basketball team’s victory in the Division 1 State Championship.
Beliard’s dedication to basketball, which he cherished since the age of two, was evident throughout his high school journey. He aimed to pursue a doctorate in physical therapy, emphasizing the close-knit bond among his teammates.
The young athlete achieved academic excellence as well, making the high school’s honor roll during his senior year. Worcester’s North High School Dean of Students and boys basketball coach, Al Pettway, fondly remembered Beliard as a smart, cheerful, and dedicated student-athlete.
Governor Maura Healey described the loss as incredibly sad and heartbreaking, while Salem Mayor Dominick Pangallo and Worcester Mayor Joe Petty extended their condolences to Beliard’s family and the university community.