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Five reputed gang members held in slaying of Santa Cruz boy, 12

Five reputed gang members have been arrested in connection with the drive-by slaying of a 12-year-old boy last year in Santa Cruz, law enforcement authorities said Monday.

Joseph Mendoza was gunned down Aug. 8, 2012, as he was standing on a sidewalk in the city's Lower Ocean neighborhood near the San Lorenzo River. Police said the attackers drove up in a vehicle and that multiple shots were fired from a handgun.

Andrew Carerra, 19, and four juveniles were arrested in connection with the killing, the Santa Cruz Police Department said.

Police officials described all four as "Norteño street gang members" who were residents of neighboring Watsonville at the time of the shooting.

Four of the suspects were on juvenile probation when they killed the boy, according to police.

Two of the juveniles are 15 and were taken into custody at group homes in Exeter, police said. The other two teens are 17 and were arrested at Santa Cruz County Juvenile Hall.

Police said a sixth suspect could be arrested next week.

 

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Twitter: @LAJourno

robert.lopez@latimes.com

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