16-year-old boy, 19-year-old woman arrested in alleged gang related weekend San Jose killing

By Sean Webby
Mercury News

A 16-year-old San Jose boy and a 19-year-old woman are facing murder charges for a gang-related shooting death over the weekend that turned out to be the first of three unrelated house party slayings, according to police.

The teenager was not identified by police because of his age. The woman was identified as Sarah Benavides.

Lt. Junior Gamez, who heads the city’s homicide unit, said Benavides’ arrest on such a violent felony reflected a troubling trend of young women actively participating in violent gang activity. He said it highlighted the need for more gang prevention targeted toward city girls.

The two arrests wrapped up the last of the suspects in the unusually bloody stretch of slayings over the weekend that pushed the city’s homicide total to 26. Last year there were 33 homicides — a 10-year-high.

At 10:30 p.m. Saturday, the two suspects in the first killing confronted Robert Betancourt, 25, on the sidewalk in front of a home in the 400 block of Sanders Avenue, according to police. The suspects asked the victim if he was affiliated with a gang. Police said Betancourt was not affiliated with any gang. The 16-year-old — mistaking him for a Sureño gang member — shot him several times, police said. The suspects then fled.

The Violent Crime Enforcement team tracked down Benavides, using leads generated from neighbors “sick of the violence,” Gamez said.

The juvenile was tracked down later — already in custody on drug charges. An hour after the killing, patrol officers had busted the youth in downtown San Jose when they found him with suspected methamphetamines and he lied to officers about his identity, police said.

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