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Three teens say they're guilty in mall attack

Three suspected gang members have pleaded guilty to assaulting a man at the Rogue Valley Mall in April.

One of the teens, 17-year-old Filiberto Molina Cazares, was treated as an adult in Jackson County Circuit Court after officials reviewed his past criminal history and the resources available to help him in the juvenile justice system, Jackson County deputy district attorney Adam Peterson said. The other two, brothers ages 17 and 15, remained in the juvenile system.

All three pleaded guilty to third-degree assault last week, Peterson said.

The teens, who all claim to be members of a Sureños gang offshoot called RAW — an acronym for Ready and Willing, saw a 29-year-old Ashland man wearing a shirt with a red star on it on April 11, Peterson. They singled out the man, who was at the mall food court with his girlfriend and young son, because Norteños, the Sureños' rival gang, use the color red, Peterson said.

When they confronted the man, he asked them to step outside, away from his family and where he had seen a security guard, Peterson said. Just outside the mall, the teens began kicking and hitting the man. A security guard tried to intervene and summoned other guards, who pepper-sprayed the assailants and called police.

Cazares and the other 17-year-old ran, but security guards detained the 15-year-old. Police tracked down the two older teens later that afternoon, and they all remained in custody until they entered guilty pleas last week.

Cazares entered his plea Friday and was sentenced to 30 days in jail — the maximum allowed under state law under the conditions, Peterson said. He had been jailed 33 days since his arrest, so he was given credit for time served and released. He will be on probation for three years.

The other two teens entered their guilty pleas May 13, Peterson said.

The 17-year-old is suspected of being in the country illegally, so Immigration and Customs Enforcement placed a hold on him. He will be transferred to a federal detention center and have a hearing before a judge specializing in immigration law, Peterson said.

The 15-year-old was released to family while officials investigate the most appropriate sentence. His sentencing hearing, called a disposition in the juvenile system, is set for June 2. Peterson said the sentence could range from simply probation to incarceration in a state juvenile correctional center. Prosecutors likely will recommend the boy either be sent to the correctional center or assigned to a one-year gang-intervention program in Salem.

— Anita Burke