A Chino, California groom was beaten to death by two uninvited men that crashed his wedding reception. Joe Melgoza was attending his reception which started Saturday evening and went on until Sunday morning. The party was held in his sister’s backyard.
When two wedding crashers showed up, 30-year-old Melgoza tried to fight them off. The brawl would result in Melgoza’s death from a blunt force head trauma, according to NBC News. Now his family is mourning during what should have been a wonderful time in Melgoza’s life.
Two strangers crash Melgoza’s wedding.
Police identified the two men as brothers Rony and Josue Castañeda Ramirez. They didn’t know the groom but lived in the neighborhood. There was some confusion at first because it was a wedding reception with two massive families.
“Because it was such a big party and it was two big families, we just assumed that somebody knew them because they were right there among us,” Velasquez told Oxygen.com.
The brothers were eventually asked to leave and they did. But they came back to the reception armed with bats.
“Those cowards came back with bats. They were in the alley and it was dark… My brother tried to go get them. They pulled him into the house and they killed him,” Andy Velasquez, Melgoza’s brother, told NBC.
The groom’s family believes he was just trying to protect his family from the invaders when he and his brother-in-law chased them into a dark alley.
“They were in the alley and it was dark,” Velasquez told NBC. “My brother tried to go get them.”
Police responded to a fight at 2:20 AM on Sunday morning, according to CBS News. When they arrived, officers found a huge crowd and the two alleged attackers.
When police heard of another victim that was missing, authorities discovered Melgoza’s body in the backyard of a different home.
“The victim, later identified as 30-year-old Joe Steven Melgoza, suffered blunt force trauma to his head. Officers began life-saving efforts, and Melgoza was transported to Chino Valley Medical Center, where he succumbed to his injuries,” the Chino police said in a statement.
The brothers have been arrested by law enforcement.
The two men were arrested on suspicion of murder and are being held without bail. According to Oxygen, who reviewed the criminal complaint, they both have been charged with first-degree murder and two accounts of assault with a deadly weapon.
“They don’t have any relationship to the victim or anybody else at the reception,” Sgt. Dustin Tomicic told Oxygen.com.
Melgoza leaves behind his siblings, widow, and 11-year-old daughter. Melgoza had full custody of his daughter who will now be cared for by her grandmother and siblings.
“You could see it in his face, how happy he was,” his widow said. “Just the way he looked at me all day.”
Velasquez told Oxygen that he was heartbroken he didn’t get to say goodbye to Melgoza, his last words to his brother were, “You know I got you forever, bro, you know this.” The family has started a GoFundMe page for the father’s funeral services.
“He always had a way to make you smile. He was there for you at any time to give a helping hand. He was taken from us in such a tragic and horrific way,” Melgoza’s cousin Alice Alvarez wrote on the GoFundMe page. “He leaves behind his daughter Lilly who will be in good hands with Joe’s family. We are asking for your support in this time for Joe’s services and for his little girl Lilly. Isela, Joe’s mom is devastated, heartbroken and is having a hard time processing it all.”
Strangers chip in to support Melgoza’s family.
The fundraiser has surpassed its $20,000 goal with $30,973 from 817 donors thus far. It’s been shared over 3.3 thousand times.
“I do not know Mr. Melgoza or his family, but I read his story and I want to help. I’m so sorry for this terrible tragedy. I hope this small donation helps. He seems like a wonderful father and husband. My sincerest condolences to the family,” one donor named Pat Geil said on the GoFundMe page.
Melgoza started dating his widow Esther Bustamente just a year before the wedding, but they had known each other for a decade. The family told Oxygen the wedding was beautiful up until the tragic end.
“He showed me how to be a man, how to be a father, how to work hard, how to be responsible. I don’t know what I’m going to do without my brother. He was there for me, always. He guided me through everything,” Velasquez said.