Man arrested in connection with robbery of San Mateo Verizon Wireless store pleads not guilty 

The man arrested Wednesday in connection with the armed robbery of a San Mateo cellphone store pleaded not guilty Friday to felony charges of kidnapping, robbery and resisting arrest, according to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

Tajari Turner, 23, of San Francisco is a parolee with two prior convictions for robbery, Wagstaffe said. If convicted on the current charges, it would be considered a third strike under California’s Three Strikes Sentencing Law and could result in a minimum prison sentence of 25 years to life.

Turner is alleged to have walked into the Verizon Wireless store in the 1700 block of Gum Street about 11 a.m. and asked a female employee about buying a phone, Wagstaffe said. He is then alleged to have closed the front door demanded all of the cellphones at gunpoint.

Turner then grabbed the woman by her shirt and forced her into a backroom storage closet, Wagstaffe said. He reportedly made her put about 10 phones into a bag.

The victim was then able to flee out the back of the store, and Turner reportedly chased her briefly before fleeing in his car.

Police discovered the unoccupied vehicle about a mile away from the store at 25th and Palm avenues. Upon Turner’s return to the car, police went to arrest him and he violently resisted, Wagstaffe said. A search of the car revealed the stolen cellphones and a BB gun. The victim positively identified Turner as the suspect.

Turner was appointed an attorney Friday and pleaded not guilty to the charges, Wagstaffe said. He remains in custody on no-bail status and is scheduled to return to court for a preliminary hearing at 9 a.m. Sept. 18.

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