SAN JOSE -- The family of a man slain in an apparent gang attack in downtown San Jose is challenging implications that he was gang affiliated, describing instead a man chasing careers in music and acting who had the bad luck of coming across the wrong people -- including a 14-year-old now being tried for murder -- on a fateful night in July.
Michael Maynard, 33, was killed in the early-morning hours of July 29 at Market Street and Park Avenue, next to the Tech Museum of Innovation and Plaza de César Chávez. According to police, Maynard was in a heated conversation with a group of about a half-dozen men before they chased him through the park and beat him, and in the course of the attack a 21-year-old man and his 14-year-old brother stabbed him. Maynard died soon after at the hospital.
This past week, when two gang members and the teen were charged with killing him, authorities alleged that the attack involved gang members but was not likely fueled by gang rivalry. In doing so, they alleged that Maynard had gang ties in Alameda County; Maynard once lived in Oakland. That incensed his family, who flat-out refute the implication.
"He was not, I repeat, not a gang member," said Carvel Rease, Maynard's father. "He was not in a gang. He was never in a gang."
Rease, a Modesto resident, insists that his son was keeping to himself and may have just visited friends when he was walking downtown the night of the attack, which was seen by multiple witnesses and at least partly caught by area businesses' surveillance cameras.
Rease said his son was staying with him in Modesto but attended school and had family ties to Oakland, where authorities listed his residence. He had taken up acting in Berkeley and performed in the Bay Area rap scene.
As for why his son might be ascribed gang ties, Rease contends that the suspects currently jailed for the killing fabricated a reason for their acts.
"These are murderous criminals," Rease said. "We're trying to get to the real truth."
Another relative challenged the gang ties by saying Maynard wore American flag T-shirts and carried a Bible in his backpack, which was seen lying in the street the morning of the attack.
Luis Alvarez, 20, Luis Daniel Garcia, 21, and Marvin Garcia, 14, all of San Jose, have all been charged with murder and a gang enhancement in Maynard's killing. A witness told police that the Garcia brothers yelled gang slogans during the attack, and authorities believe the two adult suspects are known gang members. Marvin Garcia, who turns 15 this month, is one of the youngest homicide defendants in the history of Santa Clara County.
Contact Robert Salonga at 408-920-5002. Follow him at Twitter.com/robertsalonga.