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South Jordan man, 19, charged with murder is suspected in 'multiple shootings,' police say

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Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — A documented gang member was charged Friday with murder for allegedly shooting a man multiple times after the two of them got into an argument.

Even though he is only 19, Alex Christopher Mendoza Jr. is "well known to law enforcement and the gang community" and has had "84 involvements with law enforcement between 2013 and 2020," according to court documents, which also say he is a suspect in "multiple shootings and more than one homicide."

Known as "Baby Alex," his father is also a documented gang member, according to police.

In addition to being charged with murder, a first-degree felony, Mendoza Jr., of South Jordan, is also charged in 3rd District Court with discharge of a firearm causing serious injury, a first-degree felony; plus discharge of a firearm causing injury, possession of a weapon by a restricted person and obstructing justice, all second-degree felonies.

Emilio Salazar, 28, of Salt Lake City, was shot at 1172 W. California Ave., including one shot to the back of his head, on Jan. 9, according to charging documents. Police found him face down in the driveway. He was taken to a local hospital where he died from his injuries.

Three shell casings were recovered at the scene by police, according to the charges.

Witnesses told police that Salazar had been arguing with Mendoza inside the residence. The two then went outside, where "Mendoza produced a gun and shot Salazar," the charges state.

He was arrested at his home in South Jordan. But police say he was slow coming out of his house to surrender, and when he turned over his cellphone, the SIM card was missing, according to the charges.

The Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office has requested that Mendoza be held without bail.

Mendoza also has a "history of threatening and intimidating witnesses," court documents state.

After Salazar was shot, Mendoza sent a Snapchat video message to a witness in which he held a gun and pointed it at the camera, according to the court motion requesting he be held without bail.

When he was arrested, police noted that when one witnesses was questioned, the interview took over four hours because that person was "terrified" of Mendoza.

"As a juvenile, (Mendoza) was adjudicated on multiple felonies, including an aggravated assault with a firearm that occurred in 2019. Most recently, (he) was arrested for aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, possession of firearm by a restricted person and fleeing from police," the motion states.

But with the exception of fleeing from police, the other charges were later dismissed in court because witnesses "stopped cooperating," according to the motion.

Police say they are familiar with both "Baby Alex" and his father, Alex Christopher Mendoza, 39, who is also a documented gang with a lengthy criminal history and has served time in the Utah State Prison, according to court records.

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Pat Reavy

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