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Arrest made in fatal shooting of Salem State University student, officials say

Carl-Hens Beliard (right) was photographed with Worcester North High School basketball coach Al Pettway.Worcester Public Schools

An 18-year-old Salem resident was arrested Wednesday night for the fatal shooting of a Salem State University basketball player found shot overnight on a car parked near campus, authorities said.

Missael Pena Canela is due to be arraigned Thursday in Salem District Court on a charge of murder, Essex District Attorney Paul F. Tucker’s office said in a statement.

Early Wednesday, Pena Canela allegedly fatally shot Carl-Hens Beliard, 18, a killing that does not appear to be random, officials said.

Beliard, was found suffering from gunshot wounds inside a vehicle near 22 Forest Ave. after police received a 911 call at 1:24 a.m. reporting a shooting in that area, according to a joint statement released by Salem State President John Keenan, law enforcement and city officials.


The location is across from a parking lot near the university’s athletics facilities. The shooting occurred just a short time after thousands of Halloween revelers departed the North Shore city’s annual celebration.

Beliard, a forward on the men’s basketball team, was taken to Salem Hospital, where he died.

Authorities said they do not believe the killing was random and that there is no ongoing threat to the campus.

“As both the Salem State president and a college dad, this tragedy is heartbreaking for all in our community and every parent’s worst nightmare,” Keenan said in the statement.

Tucker said the killing “is tragic not only for the victim’s family but for the SSU community and beyond.”

“State Police detectives assigned to my office are working closely with the Salem Police Department and Salem State University officials to identify and bring the person responsible to justice,” Tucker said.

Beliard’s death is the second fatal shooting on a state university campus in less than a week. A 19-year-old Southbridge man, Randy Armando Melendez Jr., was killed Saturday in a double shooting in a parking lot at Worcester State University that also injured another man. Neither victim attended the university, officials said.


Beliard graduated this year from North High School in Worcester, where he played on the varsity basketball team that won the Division 1 state championship. At a May meeting of the Worcester City Council, Mayor Joseph M. Petty presented team members with keys to the city for their achievement.

Beliard also made the high school’s honor roll in the second quarter of his senior year.

The team defeated Needham 73-64 at Tsongas Arena in Lowell on March 19 to claim the title after a 24-2 season, according to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

At a rally celebrating the victory one week later, Beliard, the team’s only senior, said the championship felt “like a dream come true.”

“Ever since I started playing basketball, I always wanted to win a championship,” Beliard told the newspaper. “It’s an amazing feeling.”

Beliard told the Telegram he planned to study exercise science in college and eventually pursue a doctorate in physical therapy. He also spoke of the team’s camaraderie on and off the court.

“We have a lot of chemistry on the team and that’s how we got so far, that’s why we’re here right now,” he said. “We hang out outside of basketball. We’re all playing basketball. It’s really like a brotherhood.”

In a press conference at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday, Al Pettway, Worcester’s North High School dean of students and boys basketball coach, shared his memories of Beliard.


“He was a great kid, smart, smart student, he had a smile that would just brighten up any room when he would open his mouth, so we lost a really, really good one today, unfortunately,” said Pettway.

Having kept in touch with Beliard after he graduated, and the two had spoken recently.

“I had just spoken to him about a month ago, he was excited about school, enjoying himself, he sent me his basketball schedule so I was excited about going to watch him play. College basketball starts very shortly, so I was really excited about going to see him play in uniform, and unfortunately that’s not gonna happen,” said Pettway.

John R. Ellement and Kathy McCabe of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at Follow him @jeremycfox. Grace Gilson can be reached at