Killing of San Francisco Japantown security guard Gavin Boston shocks community

Killing of San Francisco Japantown security guard Gavin Boston shocks community

SAN FRANCISCO -- The shooting death of Gavin Boston, a security guard at the Japan Center Mall in San Francisco's Japantown Wednesday - allegedly by a 15-year-old boy - has left mall workers and customers in shock.

Several workers at the mall at Geary Boulevard and Webster Street said 40-year-old Boston only started the job about a month ago.

One worker who didn't want to be identified said she heard the gunfire.

"Usually the mall's pretty rowdy, we have teens come in a lot with skateboards so I thought it was just boxes dropping," she said.

Gavin Boston Family Photo

She said in the short time he was there, Boston was always kind, friendly, and responsible. She added that several small businesses deal with daily crimes, including shoplifting.

"Even when we have people yelling at him, and people yell at us too, he never yelled back. He was also really calm so it's honestly really shocking," she said. "He more than anything said, 'Hello' to us. Just to make sure he's there to support us, so he'd say 'Good Morning.'"

It would be the last time Boston said good morning to her on Wednesday. San Francisco police said he was shot and killed just after 5 p.m on Jan. 4.

Responding officers began life-saving measures as medics headed to the scene but, despite the efforts of emergency responders, the man was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. Homicide investigators found two juvenile males, a 15-year-old and a 14-year-old, and developed probable cause to arrest them. Both of them were booked into the Juvenile Justice Center.

The 15-year-old was charged with murder, while the 14-year-old was charged with being an accessory to murder.

"I feel bad for his family, his loved ones, it's just really hard on all of us I think," said the mall worker. 

On Friday, many came to the mall with heavy hearts.

"I know the community's torn up about this, and I didn't know him personally, but I do love being here, so I appreciate all the guards that try to keep us safe," said Ronel Mallari of Daly City. "He was just doing his job."

In September of last year, District Attorney Brooke Jenkins reintroduced a new policy that would allow prosecutors to charge 16- and 17-year-olds as adults in certain egregious cases.

Her office revealed that the 15-year-old has a record. She said in a statement to KPIX 5:

I extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Gavin Boston, the victim who was brutally murdered at the Japan Center Mall. I also extend my heartfelt support and commitment to the broader Japantown and Western Addition communities who were harmed by this tragic and senseless killing.

The 15-year-old juvenile arrested by police is charged with murder and other gun-related felony offenses. The minor will be arraigned on Monday, January 9, 2023. The minor's case will be handled by the juvenile court as required by California law (WIC 707(a)(1).

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. 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.

A GoFundMe page has been created to help with Boston's funeral expenses.

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