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Mount Pleasant police say two Racine teenagers are behind bars after they robbed a restaurant at gunpoint, and they caught them with the help of an anonymous tip and a popular social media site.
Jorge Martinez, 17, and Jose Mendoza, 18, both of Racine, were charged Monday in Racine County Circuit Court with one felony count each of armed robbery, party to a crime and 2nd degree endangering safety – party to a crime, use of a dangerous weapon. If convicted, they each face 50 years in jail and/or up to $125,000 in fines.
According to the criminal complaint, Mount Pleasant police were called to Jose’s Blue Sombrero, 6430 Washington Avenue, at 11:49 p.m. Nov. 22 in reference to shots fired. When officers arrived, witnesses told them two males fled northbound through the parking lot after demanding money from the safe and firing a shotgun twice.
Police say a female employee was in the office of the restaurant placing money into the safe when two males – later identified as Martinez and Mendoza – entered the space, one of whom held a shotgun. One of the men was wearing a black hoodie, red bandana and held the shotgun. The other male was wearing a white mask, and they demanded the woman open the safe and give them the money.
She complied and then got down on the floor as commanded and said she heard what sounded like two shotgun blasts, the complaint reads. The woman told officers she thought one of the men might be another employee she only knew as “Jorge.”
Officers say another witness told police they observed two men enter the restaurant from a door in the kitchen near the rear of the building. They fired the shotgun and ordered this employee to the floor near the safe. Once they had the money, the pair fired another shot and fled the scene.
12-gauge shotgun shells were found on scene, one of which was stamped with “Winchester,” and a winter Chicago Bears hat, a red Wisconsin Badgers backpack, and a white mask with an elastic strap were discovered in a location north of the restaurant’s parking lot. The backpack had the name, “Mendoza” written on it, the complaint reads.
Police say they received an anonymous tip that Martinez and Mendoza committed the crime, and Mendoza’s Instagram account included photos taken just two hours after the robbery of him with large sums of cash and a designer watch. Additional pictures were found on other social media sites of Mendoza wearing a white mask identical to the one found after the robbery, and his father confirmed his identity when officers showed him the photos. Mendoza’s parents also confirmed the backpack belonged to him.
Officers executed a no-knock search warrant on Martinez’s home and found two shotguns and several boxes of ammunition marked with the same “Winchester” name – some of which still had bullets – underneath his bed, the complaint reads.
When he was being questioned by police, Martinez said Mendoza paid him $100 to store the guns at his house and that he texted Mendoza when the kitchen door was propped open as well as the exact location of the office and the safe. Police say Martinez denied any further involvement and did not say who might have been with Mendoza the night of the robbery.
Both defendants remain in the Racine County Jail with $100,000 cash bonds each. They will next be in court Dec. 10 for their preliminary hearings.