Alleged gang members plead not guilty to murder at pet store

Two suspected gang members accused of killing a man in a San Mateo pet store parking lot in September and leading California Highway Patrol officers in a pursuit into San Francisco pleaded not guilty Wednesday to murder charges, prosecutors said.

San Leandro resident Alejandro DeLeon, 22, and Hayward resident Louis Mercado, 20, also pleaded not guilty to enhancements for use of a firearm and charges of fleeing law enforcement officers, according to San Mateo County Deputy District Attorney Karen Guidotti.

DeLeon and Mercado are allegedly both Norteno gang members who confronted 31-year-old Daniel Corona, a member of the rival Sureno gang, outside the PetSmart store at 3520 South El Camino Real just before
7 p.m. on Sept. 6, prosecutors said.

Deleon shot Corona and they both got into a car and drove away. San Mateo police received a description of the car from witnesses and found the pair driving away, prosecutors said.

DeLeon and Mercado refused to pull over and led San Mateo police and CHP officers on a high-speed chase on Interstate 280 and U.S. Highway 101 into San Francisco. The suspects threw several items out of the car, including the murder weapon, during the chase, prosecutors said.

Eventually, they stopped in the area of Market Street and Octavia Boulevard and were both detained.

DeLeon and Mercado both remain in jail without bail and are scheduled to return to court for a preliminary hearing on Feb. 28.

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