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2 Suspects Arrested in Shooting of Child in Pasadena

1 of the suspects was already awaiting trial for murder, animal abuse

Published on Tuesday, May 25, 2021 | 5:28 pm
Mario Ramirez of Pasadena was seriously wounded in a shooting as he played in front of his home in Pasadena on Feb. 14, 2021. He was 10 years old at the time of the shooting. (Credit:

Police on Tuesday announced the arrests of two men in connection with a Valentine’s Day shooting that left a then-10-year-old boy seriously wounded as he played in front of his home in Pasadena.

Joseph Mekhi Knowles, 21, of Altadena and Tanaj Johnson, 22, of Pasadena are accused of attempted murder and mayhem stemming from the Feb. 14 shooting in the 300 block of Parke Street, according to Los Angeles County Superior Court and booking records. Knowles is additionally charged with possession of a gun by a prohibited person.

Mayhem is legally defined as the permanent maiming or disfiguring of a victim. Detectives declined to discuss what specific permanent injury the boy suffered.

Knowles was taken into custody on May 20, while Johnson was arrested in April in connection with a prior murder and animal abuse case before being charged with the Pasadena shooting, as well, records show.

The shooting left Mario Ramirez, who was 10 years old at the time, severely injured.

He was playing in front of his home when a car approached, police said. Two attackers got out of the car and at least one opened fire.

Ramirez was not believed to be the intended target of the gunfire.

“There is nothing to indicate the 10-year-old was the intended victim of this senseless act of violence,” Pasadena police said in a written statement.

The young victim marked his 11th birthday while recuperating at a hospital.

An online fund set up to aid in the boy’s recovery garnered more than $47,000 in donations.

First responders lined the streets to welcome him home upon his release from medical care more than a month later, though officials noted he still had a long road to recovery, having already undergone several surgeries.

Detectives have continued a “rigorous investigation” ever since, according to the police statement.

Investigators took them into custody with help from the U.S. Marshal’s Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Task Force, according to Pasadena police.

“Additional items of evidentiary value connecting the suspects to the shooting were located and collected,” the police statement said.

Further details, such as a motive in the shooting, were not available.

When arrested for the shooting, Johnson was already in Los Angeles County Jail following his arrest on suspicion of murder and felony animal abuse on April 15, according to court and booking records. He had pleaded not guilty to the charges on May 5.

Further details about the prior murder and animal abuse case were not available Tuesday evening.

Knowles was scheduled to appear in the Pasadena branch of L.A. County Superior Court on Wednesday. Johnson’s initial court hearing was set for Thursday.

Knowles was being held in lieu of $3.35 million bail, while Johnson was being held without bail.


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