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Tuesday, 20 September 2011

South San Francisco murder victim was 14


A boy left for dead after being shot several times in South San Francisco Sunday night has been identified as Joseph Maharaj, 14, according to the Coroner’s Office. While police have yet to determine whether the fatal shooting of the boy was gang-related, residents who live near where he was found in the street with another 14-year-old shooting victim suspect that it was. The fatal shooting was the first homicide in South San Francisco this year but last year the city suffered a spate of gang-related murders that shook the city, including a triple homicide Dec. 22. Sunday night’s shooting happened just before 9 p.m. and when police arrived they found two gunshot victims, both 14, and another teen, 15, on the 600 block of First Lane between Magnolia and Orange avenues. The teens were treated at the scene and transported to a hospital where one of them was later pronounced dead. The other 14-year-old was shot at least four times but is expected to survive. The third victim, who was not shot, was being cooperative with police, said South San Francisco police Sgt. Joni Lee. At least 15 to 20 shots were fired during the incident, Lee said. Police are looking for at least two Hispanic men, between 18 and 20 years old, who were seen driving in the area at the time of the shooting in a black Honda Accord or Civic, according to police. Those in the car were wearing dark-colored clothing with “hoodies” and one was wearing a white beanie. It is unknown if this vehicle is involved in the shooting, according to police. Yesterday afternoon, residents in the area gathered where the two boys were found shot, some of who witnessed the suspects fleeing the scene. Alma Ramirez pointed out where at least seven bullets related to Sunday night’s shooting entered two different homes on First Lane. She was also quick to point out blood stains on the street and sidewalk. “When I heard the shots, my first instinct was to protect my family,” said Ramirez, who is married with a young daughter. She saw a man chasing the teen in an alley between two homes on First Lane that connects to Railroad Avenue. “I couldn’t see a face, just shadows,” Ramirez told the Daily Journal yesterday. Another neighbor, who was fearful to identify himself, also witnessed the victims running from the shooter. “I never saw the boys before in my life,” he said. He heard three shots ring out, then a pause for about 10 seconds, then more gunfire. He assumed the shooting was related to rival gangs. Ramirez said the neighborhood is relatively safe but has concerns now after Sunday’s homicide. “A lot of parents, they both have to work and maybe they didn’t know what was going on with their kids,” she said. In recent months, Ramirez said, the neighborhood has seen an increase in the number of youths smoking marijuana on the street. Most crime in the area, she said, is usually nonviolent. Sunday night’s incident was not near the triple homicide in December. That incident happened in Old Town, on the east side of Grand Avenue. Sunday’s incident was on the west side of Grand Avenue, several blocks from downtown. After last December’s triple homicide, the South San Francisco Police Department hired four new officers to form a neighborhood response team unit to combat youth and gang violence in the neighborhoods that circle downtown. “This shooting and homicide is a tragic reminder of the hard work that remains to be done, and the city of South San Francisco will not rest until we have a community free of violence,” Mayor Kevin Mullin wrote in a statement yesterday. He offered his “deepest sympathies” to the families of Sunday night’s incident. Mullin said the city has made great strides to combat gang problems since December. “The city ... has moved aggressively since the multiple shooting deaths in 2010 to address the challenges of gang and youth violence ... Yet more must and will be done to address the root causes of the violence and to create a safer community now and in the future,” Mullin wrote in the statement.



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