The Worcester community in Massachusetts is mourning the loss of 18-year-old Carl-Hens Beliard, a rising Haitian-American athlete, who was shot dead last week while riding in a car near his college campus.
The teen, born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, was a student at Salem State University studying sport and movement science and a freshman on the college’s men’s basketball team.
“Such a terrible tragedy,” said Rep. Manny Cruz on X. “My prayers are with the Beliard Family, and SSU community who lost a beloved young person in Carl-Hens to senseless violence.”
On Nov. 1, authorities say, Beliard was in a car with a young woman when he was shot. They have since arrested Missael Pena Canela, 18, of Salem, on murder charges in connection with the shooting, the Essex District Attorney’s office said in a statement. They did not provide further details as the investigation is continuing.
Born on Nov. 11, 2004 in Port au Prince, Beliard graduated earlier this year from North High School in Worcester, where he had played forward for the varsity boys basketball team, which won the Division 1 State Championship last May. After completing his exercise science studies, he hoped to pursue a doctorate in physical therapy.
“Carl-Hens had a passion for basketball and dreamed of becoming a star since he was 2 years old,” his family wrote in an obituary. “He was loved by so many and will be missed by them all.”
Liz Zaiter, captain of the Salem State Women’s basketball team, created a GoFundMe page she coordinated to raise money for Beliard’s family to help with funeral expenses.
“He had an ‘an amazing smile that he brought every day to practice,’” Zaiter recalled in a post sharing the fundraising page. “‘He was so honored to be a part of the basketball team and was working really hard to improve his game. Our collective hearts are crushed with his passing.’”