Santiago Julian Alvarez Credit: Montgomery County State's Attorney's Office

A man who police said shot at a man last year at Westfield Wheaton mall, thinking he was a rival gang member, was ordered to serve 10 years in prison Tuesday.

Santiago Julian Alvarez, 19, of Langley Park, got into fights on Nov. 21, 2018, inside Westfield Wheaton mall — near JC Penney and inside Dick’s Sporting Goods — with a man he thought was a rival gang member, according to police.

Police say Alvarez followed the victim into the mall parking garage.

During the second altercation, inside Dick’s, Alvarez allegedly yelled “I’m from LP,” which, according to the State’s Attorney’s Office, is a reference to a street gang in Langley Park.

Alvarez fired a black semiautomatic handgun at the red Nissan Altima the victim was in, striking him in the torso, according to court documents.

The car crashed into a brick support column outside Dick’s, injuring a child and the woman driving the car. The shooting victim was injured from the gunshot and had the bullet removed from his back at the hospital.


Alvarez was charged in January with attempted first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, reckless endangerment and assault. He pleaded guilty to first-degree assault in June, according to state court records.

Text messages obtained by prosecutors say Alvarez sent a text message to someone that said “I got an OP” after the shooting, referring to “opposition,” a rival gang member.

Prosecutors said there was evidence on Alvarez’s phone that he was a drug dealer.


Montgomery County Circuit Judge Steven Salant sentenced Alvarez on Tuesday to 25 years in prison with all but 10 years suspended, according to Ramon Korionoff, a spokesman for the State’s Attorney’s Office.

Alvarez also was sentenced to five years of supervised probation after the prison term ends. He would have to serve the remaining 15 years in prison if he violates the probation term.

Korionoff wrote in an email that the sentence holds Alvarez accountable for his actions.


“Shoppers and business owners alike should feel safe at Wheaton mall and holding violent gang members to task is one way to make that point,” he said.

Defense attorney Adam Harris said in an interview that the outcome of the case was bad for everyone involved.

“It’s a terrible shame for both young men,” he said, referring to both Alvarez and the shooting victim.


Dan Schere can be reached at