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15-year-old denies murder charges in shooting of SF security guard

The deadly shooting occurred at 1581 Webster St. in Japantown. | Google Streetview

A 15-year-old has denied charges of murder and personally discharging a pistol on Jan. 4 in relation to the killing of Gavin Boston, a security guard in San Francisco’s Japantown.

The boy, whose name is not being disclosed because he is a minor, appeared at the Juvenile Justice Center in the city Monday.

According to San Francisco police, homicide investigators identified and arrested two teenage boys in connection with the shooting. One, a 15-year-old, was arrested on suspicion of murder, and another, a 14-year-old, was arrested on suspicion of accessory to murder. The 14-year-old did not appear in court Monday.

The suspect was represented by public defender Rebecca Marcus—who denied all allegations after the charge was read on behalf of her client. Marcus also requested a gag order on future hearings, limiting press and public knowledge of the proceedings, before accusing the DA’s Office of leaking confidential information about their client to the media.

A spokesperson for the office told The Standard: "The Public Defender's Office will be exploring all avenues for holding the District Attorney's Office accountable for violating state law."

READ MORE: Security Guard Shot and Killed in Japantown, Police Arrest Two Teens

Approximately eight of Boston’s family and friends were in attendance for the hearing with a similar number of the suspect’s family and friends also in attendance.

The court also ruled that the teenage suspect would continue to be detained at juvenile hall, saying the court had made reasonable attempts in prior cases to keep him supervised at home.

Despite the seriousness of the alleged crimes, the minor’s case will be handled by the juvenile court as required by California law, which says the prosecuting office may only make a motion to transfer a minor from juvenile to adult court if they are age 16 or older. The next hearing is set for Friday. 

“This case is especially tragic and disheartening as it represents the tragic outcomes of criminal justice system partners not working together to protect the public and improve outcomes for juvenile offenders,” District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said in a statement. “In a previous case, involving this minor, my office sought to intervene by seeking to hold him in custody where he could have begun rehabilitative services. Sadly, the court ruled otherwise.”

DA Brooke Jenkins speaks to the press at her office. | Juliana Yamada/The Standard

In lieu of adult prison or jail, juveniles are generally funneled toward supervision and probation that is done at home or at a facility. 

Since being appointed as ousted Chesa Boudin’s successor over the summer, and then affirmed by voters in November, Jenkins has, as expected, reversed her predecessor’s charging policies

In September, her office announced that it would consider charging 16- and 17-year-olds alleged to have committed “heinous crimes that shock the conscience of the community” as adults—something Boudin’s office had vowed it would not do under any circumstances. 

But in this case, the suspect’s age strictly prohibits Jenkins’ office from doing so. 

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner identified last week’s victim as 40-year-old Gavin Boston. 

According to KTVU, Boston reportedly had only worked at the shopping center for two months before the shooting occurred. 

The incident took place at the Japan Center, near the second-story overpass that connects its two halves. It occurred at the same time a powerful storm was slamming into the city. Monday’s hearing also coincided with a judge ruling that Jenkin’s office will not have to recuse itself over conflicts of interest in a case involving Mayor London Breed’s brother.

Kevin V. Nguyen can be reached at