SALEM, MASS. (WHDH) - An 18-year-old has been arrested in connection with the deadly shooting of a Salem State University student early Wednesday morning, officials announced.
The Essex District Attorney’s Office said Carl Hens Beliard, also 18, was found inside a vehicle suffering from gunshot wounds around 1:30 a.m. after officers were called to a scene on Forest Avenue for a report of a shooting. Officials said Beliard was pronounced dead after he was taken to Salem Hospital.
Speaking shortly after 9 p.m., authorities announced investigators had taken Missael Pena Canela of Salem into custody. Pena Canela is expected to be arraigned in Salem District Court on one charge of murder on Thursday.
WATCH: Officials announce arrest in connection with shooting of Salem State University student
“He just graduated high school this year and he’s at Salem State University, so this morning, police came here and they told me that he got shot and he was dead – I couldn’t believe it,” Altagrace Beliard, the victim’s mother, told 7NEWS.
Emergency crews spent hours at the scene Wednesday morning, looking over the street and the black sedan Beliard was said to have been driving when shots were fired. Multiple bullet holes were visible on the driver’s side door as well as the vehicle’s back window.
After police cleared the area, individuals could be seen lighting candles in the spot where the vehicle went off road and crashed into a concrete barrier in front of a home by Lussier Street. The memorial continued to grow through the day, with more candles added in addition to a basketball and balloons.
“He’s just a kind, genuine soul,” said classmate Adrianna Duran. “He didn’t do no harm to nobody – he had no bad blood or bone in his body.”
Friend Justin Bell said Beliard was always smiling.
“I don’t know who would have a problem with him,” Bell said. “He was always smiling.”
The victim had just graduated from high school in the spring after winning a state championship with Worcester’s North High School basketball team.
Friends and family members said Beliard loved basketball, with his mother saying the sport had been his passion since he was young.
In Worcester, Beliard’s high school coach recalled memories of Beliard and described the difficult process of breaking the news of his death to his former teammates.
“They were in shock, ” coach Al Pettway said. “They thought I was talking about a different Carl. They repeated several times, ‘Which Carl?’ And I kind of reinforced to them that it was our Carl.”
Back at Salem State, members of Beliard’s college team are now also left to mourn the loss of a teammate.
“We got to lean on each other,” said coach Chris Harvey. “We got to lean on each other more than ever.”
Harvey continued, describing Beliard as “a great, great kid.”
“The family is shattered,” he said. “So it’s a lot to process right now.”
“He had everything going for him,” one friend said. “He was going places and someone just snatched all that away from him this morning.”
Salem State University President John Keenan in a statement said this shooting is “heartbreaking for all in our community and every parent’s worst nightmare.
Essex District Attorney Paul Tucker and Salem Police Chief Lucas Miller both also addressed the shooting, calling the incident a tragedy and vowing to bring those responsible to justice.
Authorities said that based on a preliminary investigation, the shooting did not appear to be random and that there was not any ongoing threat to the campus community.
Homicide detectives and Salem police continued to investigate through the afternoon – at one point working in a campus parking lot as they continued to search for a suspect.
Officials said Salem police working with state police detectives assigned to the Essex DA’s office ultimately arrested Pena Canela on Wednesday evening.
Officials described the case as complex and noted work by investigators to bring a suspect into custody within 20 hours of the shooting.
“I want to point out the extraordinary work and the extraordinary speed of work that went into this case,” Miller said.
Miller continued, saying most of his department’s officers and detectives had already worked a 16-hour day policing Halloween festivities before shots rang out on Forest Avenue.
“This is the day that a president dreads and a parent dreads starting at 3:30 this morning when the phone rings,” Salem State President Keenan said.
The Salem State basketball team is planning ways to honor Beliard during the season.
Officials on Wednesday night said their investigation into this shooting is ongoing.
This is a developing news story; stay with 7NEWS on-air and online for the latest details.
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