The Tuesday evening gunfight in Boston involving one-time High School Musical 3 star Justin Martin was alarming yet mercifully brief.
“It was over in a matter of seconds,” Lt. Michael McCarthy, a Boston Police Department spokesman, told The Daily Beast. “Nobody was struck by gunfire.”
The incident occurred at around 10 p.m. near 75 Bowdoin Street in Dorchester, a residential area with frequent occurrences of violent crime. Officers in the Youth Violence Strike Force engaged the two male suspects after hearing the initial shots ring out.
“After they heard shots fired, the officers turned a corner and saw [the suspect] running down the street with a gun in his hand,” McCarthy said. The suspect then allegedly aimed his gun at police but did not open fire. “They chased him, and at that point a second suspect appeared and began firing at the officers.”
After the cops returned fire, they were able to take subdue the two men and place them under arrest, recovering the loaded .22 caliber pistol and .25 caliber handgun in the process. Though no one was shot, at least one home in the neighborhood is now riddled with bullets.
“It’s dangerous,” a resident told CBS’s Boston affiliate. “It’s a dangerous situation. Anyone with a gun is a dangerous situation.”
It just so happens that one of the suspects in this dangerous situation was identified as Justin Martin, a 21-year-old Atlanta native and Hollywood actor who has appeared in such films as High School Musical 3: Senior Year (alongside Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens), The Soloist (with Robert Downey, Jr.), and Flight (as the son of Denzel Washington’s character). Martin also portrayed “young Simba” in a Broadway production of The Lion King in 2006.
Martin’s legal representative did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment, and it is unclear what he was doing or why he was allegedly carrying a firearm on Tuesday night. But he is one of the last members of Young Hollywood you would expect to be caught in the middle of a firefight. His personal life hasn’t typically landed him on the pages of tabloids, and his public persona isn’t exactly a rough one.
“Justin is a brilliantly gifted student and a member of the National Honor Society and A Better Chance,” reads a short online bio that appears to have been written by his mother, Trina Martin, who lives in Massachusetts. “He is also a singer and dancer and is looking forward to a long career in the industry as a triple threat.”
Last year, Martin participated in a holiday toy drive for needy children.
In 2013, Martin even tried to launch a social movement called “Aim High,” which was supposed to encourage young people to reach for the stars.
“You don’t even have to want to be an entertainer or a rapper...if you want to be a teacher, or a ball player, or lawyer, or whatever…[the movement is about] the simple fact of not letting anybody tell you that what you want to do is too outlandish and too outrageous,” he said at the time. “Just really believing in yourself and pushing yourself, and aim high.”
The “Aim High” movement never really gained momentum, and Martin is now facing charges of unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition, carrying a loaded firearm, and assault by means of a dangerous weapon. His bail was set at $35,000, and following Wednesday’s arraignment, Martin was ordered to obey a curfew and wear a GPS monitor.
Boston Police Commissioner William Evans emphasized that Tuesday’s shootout underscores the often fatal consequences of the number of weapons on the streets of Boston. “Our officers put their life on the line every night, and it’s just way too many guns out there,” he said. “I think we have appealed to the public to help us here, and [this] exhibits the challenge we face nightly out here on the streets.”