A man accused of fatally shooting a friend’s boyfriend at a Tacoma intersection has been arrested after being on the run for 12 years.
Jesus Mederos, 32, made his first court appearance Friday and pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm for the Oct. 20, 2006, death of Robert Tapia, 18.
Retired Pierce County Superior Court Judge Thomas Felnagle, filling in on a temporary basis, set bail at $5 million.
A warrant was issued for Mederos’ arrest in 2006 but detectives could not find him.
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He was arrested in May 2017 in Cuernavaca, Mexico, extradited and booked into Pierce County Jail late Thursday.
Tacoma police cold-case detective Steve Reopelle said outside court that the Federal Bureau of Investigation worked to find Mederos abroad.
“It sends a message out to everyone who tries to flee from justice that we’re going to pursue you,” he said.
Police are still unsure what prompted the shooting.
Charging papers give this account:
Tapia argued with his girlfriend, Nancy Aguilar, the night he died, first on the phone and then at a schoolyard.
A friend tried to calm down Tapia but he stormed off.
The friend then got his brothers, including Mederos, to try and calm Tapia down while Aguilar found her boyfriend and convinced him to get in her car.
They were driving near East 36th and K streets when Aguilar saw Mederos running toward her car with a gun in his hand.
Prosecutors contend Mederos fired through the open passenger window, striking Tapia.
He died at a hospital a short time later.
“We can’t understand why,” Tapia’s stepfather, Luis Montes, told The News Tribune in 2006.
Tapia had just graduated from Lincoln High School and started a job at a fast-food restaurant near Sea-Tac Airport. He wanted to help support the family.
Mederos was convicted of robbery in 2002 and was prohibited from having a gun.
His brother, 26-year-old Santiago Mederos, is on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list for two fatal shootings in Tacoma.
He’s one of seven people charged with the Feb. 7, 2010, death of 20-year-old Camille Love.
In that case, authorities say the shooters were looking for rival gang members in retaliation for a shooting two days earlier when they found Love and her brother driving on the East Side. They allegedly opened fire on Love and her brother because the siblings were in a red car and Josh Love was wearing a red coat.
Santiago Mederos is also charged in the March 25, 2010, death of Saul Lucas-Alfonso.
In that case, Mederos and another man ransacked a car in a Tacoma alley and got into a fight with three men who confronted them. Mederos allegedly shot at the group as he fled, hitting Lucas-Alfonso and killing him.