SAN DIEGO — Julian Vargas, 19, faced a judge for the first time Monday, accused of murdering 22-year-old Cesar Lopez-Sandoval outside of the North Clairemont Recreation Center in February.

Vargas pleaded not guilty to murder and a charge of vicarious gun use allegation.

“The investigation so far has revealed that this defendant recruited, and groomed and induced a minor to the gang that ultimately led to the shooting,” Deputy District Attorney Melissa Mack said.

According to the prosecutor, Vargas “recruited” the 14-year-old, who is also charged and in custody in connection with the case, and allegedly told him he had to earn his stripes to be part of the gang, which included bringing a gun to the park that Sunday.

“Mr. Vargas not only induced the minor to commit the crime, he recruited into his gang, he told the minor he had to earn his position in the gang in order to further his status, he told the minor to bring the gun to the park that day and he basically in so many words told the minor to get ready to kill somebody if something went down,” Mack said.

The shooting happened in broad daylight on a Sunday, sending shockwaves through the community as it happened just yards away from a playground and a youth basketball game.

“Sometimes people who don’t live in underserved violent communities aren’t cognizant of that, but gun violence is gang violence and gang violence is gun violence here in San Diego,” Mack said.

Police said the victim, a local rapper, was shot multiple times after a physical confrontation in February. San Diego police said there was a length investigation underway that included surveillance video from the surrounding area and multiple interviews.

On Thursday, SDPD announced they arrested Vargas and a 14-year-old in connection with the murder. The 14-year-old’s name hasn’t been released because he is a minor.

According to Mack, court proceedings for the minor are underway.

Lopez-Sandoval’s family was in the courtroom Monday.

“Like any other family who has lost a family member in the most tragic and horrific way possible, they are a sweet family who wants justice for their family, and gun violence in San Diego is spiraling out of control at this point,” Mack said.

Vargas’ next court appearance is set for April 28.