Community reacts to recent arrests in Mohammad Othman case

Mohammad+Othman+%28No.+11%29+was+a+senior+at+Carlmont+and+was+shot+on+Jan.+7%2C+2019.+He+was+pronounced+dead+at+the+scene+by+the+Belmont+Fire+Department.

Samantha Dalberg

Mohammad Othman (No. 11) was a senior at Carlmont and was shot on Jan. 7, 2019. He was pronounced dead at the scene by the Belmont Fire Department.

By Calista Shohet, Carlmont High School

As the third anniversary of the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Carlmont student Mohammad “Mo” Othman approaches this January, justice is beginning to be served, as suspects have been arrested.

Othman was found dead by Belmont Police on Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, at about 10:58 p.m. in the parking lot at Central Elementary School. Since then, the Belmont Police Department has been searching for who is responsible. 

Belmont detectives confirmed early on in the investigation that the perpetrators most likely knew Othman. Following this discovery, a long and ongoing investigation led to their arrests.

“It was discovered there were several suspects involved in the murder of Mohammad Othman. Investigators sought arrest warrants for three adult male suspects and one juvenile suspect who have since been taken into custody for their involvement in this unfortunate case,” the city of Belmont said.

Belmont police announced on Wednesday, Nov. 10 that suspects Ruben Gonzalez Magallanes, age 23, of Indianapolis, Antonio Valencia, age 21, of Concord, Jose Mijares Munoz, age 19, of South San Francisco, and Jorge Gonzales Mandujano, age 17, of Mountain View were taken into custody. They supposedly met to sell marijuana and rob Othman as well as others around the area.

With the recent case details, Carlmont and Belmont communities alike are trying to process this new information and the strong emotions it has brought to the surface.

“When reading about the arrests, it made me sad because it brought me right back to the day of Mohammad’s death. All I could think about was him and how difficult it must be for his family, especially since his family was such a huge part of our central community. He and his family meant a lot to our staff here, and I think there was a shared sense of justice amongst the community members,” said Linda Wilkinson, a Central Elementary teacher.

Many expressed fear for the lengthy trial process to come, as it’s been nearly two years, many are eager for justice to be served.

“I was relieved they finally made progress, but that feeling was immediately replaced by stress because now, assuming the people they have in custody are going to be prosecuted, we have entered a very delicate, long, and temperamental process that could take years before any kind of justice or resolution is solved,” said Carlmont senior Lara Craciun, who produced a Scot Scoop podcast investigating the case.

Othman’s former English teacher, Cindy Shusterman, had a similar view as Craciun on the recent progress in the case.

“I am relieved and cautiously optimistic that arrests have been made in connection to his murder. It took some time, but things like this do take time. I applaud the witnesses, citizens, and police officers who worked to get the case to this point,” Shusterman said. “I know we’ll never fully heal from Mo’s death- but this does positively impact my own personal grieving process, to know that those who allegedly murdered Mo have been arrested.” 

Throughout Othman’s various communities, it has become clear that his legacy is never to be forgotten.

“I think about Mo almost daily. I can still picture his big smile and hear his laugh as he would walk into my 1st period English class. He had the biggest grin, and he definitely made his classmates – and me laugh and smile when we were feeling stressed or sad,” Shusterman said.

Although arrests have been made, this case is still an ongoing and active investigation. Anyone with information regarding this case is asked to contact Belmont PD at 650-595-7400 or use the anonymous tip line at 650-598-3000.”

— City of Belmont

This story was originally published on Scot Scoop News on November 19, 2021.