BOSTON — Friends and family of the woman shot and killed in Dorchester over the weekend are remembering her as someone who dedicated her life to children.
Police call her an innocent bystander.
Dawnn Jaffier was a volunteer at City Year, the Boys & Girls Club and worked with the nonprofit school program Playworks.
Jaffier was marching in Boston’s J’ouvert Parade Saturday morning at the corner of Blue Hill Avenue and Charlotte Street when she was shot in the head — an innocent victim, says Boston Police Chief William Gross.
“One of our beautiful productive citizens of Boston was lost to an act of senseless violence,” he said.
The 26-year-old grew up in Brighton. After graduating from UMass Amherst she wanted to devote herself to helping children.
Jaffier went to work with City Year, the group that tries to help students in high-poverty neighborhoods succeed. From there, she went to Playworks, a national organization that seeks to improve student performance at elementary schools by stressing the importance of recess and giving children a safe place to play.
“She was amazing,” said Max Fripp, executive director of Playworks Massachusetts. “She had that rare skill of knowing how to be playful and joyful and make school this place where kids feel part of a special community and at the same time know how to make sure kids are following rules.”
Fripp said Jaffier spent every day of the school year at the Hennigan School in Jamaica Plain, ran an after-school program and coached youth sports leagues in the evening. But where she excelled was with difficult children.
Fripp remembers how Jaffier helped one student who was constantly late and getting in fights by making him a junior coach, someone who helps lead and set an example for other kids.
“That’s the kind of stuff that our best coaches do all the time, and that’s the kind of stuff that coach Dawnn consistently did — finding opportunities to connect with teachers and families to kind of lift up kids who are struggling,” Fripp said.
Police are still looking for clues as to who shot Jaffier.
They detained three men spotted leaving the scene. Two of them were questioned and released. A third, 18-year-old Keith Williams of Dorchester, faces arraignment Monday on charges of possessing an illegal firearm.