Santano Dessin, the Somerville man accused of shooting a 28-year-old in the neck Sunday night, was defending his family's home from tenants with possible gang affiliations, according to Dessin's lawyer, who spoke Tuesday morning at Dessin's arraignment.
Dessin, 33, has been charged with armed assault with intent to murder, assault and battery causing serious bodily injury and discharge of a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling. The shooting took place at around 11:30 p.m. after Dessin got into a verbal argument with the victim, according to the Middlesex District Attorney's office.
The victim of the shooting was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital and remained in critical condition, prosecutors said in court Tuesday.
Cheryl C. McGillivray, a public defender serving as Dessin's attorney, said Dessin and his family, who live at 196 Broadway, where the shooting took place, had long been threatened by a group of their tenants.
"These individuals have caused problems repeatedly over the past months," she said.
McGillivray said the group had possible gang affiliations and had been involved in drug activity. She said they had threatened Dessin and Dessin's mother in the past.
"It was in this context that the indecent happened," she said.
Dessin's brother told Boston.com Monday the shooting was in self defense after the first-floor tenants attacked the defendant.
McGillivray said Dessin was a graduate of UMass Boston who was pursuing a master's degree in criminal justices and sociology, that he had briefly served in the military before receiving a medical discharge and that he had a license to carry a firearm. "There's no history of drugs or alcohol" with Dessin, she said.
In the wake of the shooting, "I know the family is very concerned about retaliation being taken against them," she said.
After court proceedings Tuesday, a man who identified himself as a relative of Dessin's said the family would not be making any statements about the matter.
Prosecutors said in court Tuesday that Dessin had taken video on his cell phone of part of the incident and that the video "does not show an incident of self defense."
They said multiple witnesses named Dessin as the shooter and that he also had Mace and a knife on him at the time.
Tuesday's arraignment was before Judge Maurice R. Flynn at Somerville District Court. Dessin is being held pending a bail hearing, which is scheduled for Friday.