Slain man’s nephew charged as an adult

A 17-year-old boy alleged to be an accomplice in the robbery of a San Mateo market, in which police shot and killed his uncle, entered a plea of not guilty Monday.

Johnny Javier Plaza, of Redwood City, appeared in a yellow juvenile jail jumpsuit during the arraignment hearing for his alleged role in the Friday incident at the Fiesta Latina Market on Cary Avenue, just east of U.S. Highway 101.

He pleaded not guilty to one count of robberyand denied the special allegation that his accomplice was armed with a handgun.

At 10:49 a.m. Friday, police received a call that Plaza and his uncle, Adam Ramirez, 43, a Hayward resident, had entered the market, where Ramirez pointed a handgun at a cashier.

The cashier ran away before Plaza and Ramirez allegedly ran behind the counter and grabbed money from a cash register, said Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

Ramirez drove away in a white sport utility vehicle while Plaza fled on foot, hopping over fences along Patricia Avenue, according to police.

Police pursued Ramirez, and when he stopped his car in a parking lot at the Central County Mental Health Center on La Selva Street, a shootout ensued in which Ramirez was killed and a bystander was also shot. There were no reported injuries to officers.

Police apprehended Plaza several blocks from where the shooting took place. The juvenile faces six years in state prison and will be tried as an adult because he turns 18 years old in two weeks, according to Assistant District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

Wagstaffe did not know how much money was taken during the robbery. He declined to say how many times Ramirez was shot and he did not yet know who shot the bystander at the scene.

San Mateo police Capt. Kevin Raffaelli also declined to confirm who shot the bystander, saying only that the victim is still recovering at Stanford Hospital.

The two officers involved in the shooting were placed on administrative leave, which is standard protocol, Raffaelli said.

A manager at Fiesta Latina Market, who requested his name be withheld, said the store had never seen an armed robbery incident before. He said there were no injuries and did not have further comment.

“What’s done is done,” he said.

Plaza is in custody on $75,000 bail and will appear at the SouthSan Francisco courthouse on Aug. 6. He was appointed a public defender Monday. There were no friends or family members at the Monday hearing.

bfoley@examiner.com

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