Chino, CA – A California groom was violently beaten to death by two wedding crashers during his own wedding reception.
The deadly confrontation began early Sunday morning, as 30-year-old Joe Melgoza and his new bride, Esther, were celebrating with friends and family in the 13200-block of Oaks Avenue, KABC reported.
The residence where the party was being held belonged to the bride’s sister, according to NBC News.
According to the couple’s family, two men that no one knew showed up at the celebration in the early morning hours.
The wedding crashers were asked to leave the party, but returned a short while later.
“Those cowards came back with bats,” Melgoza’s brother, Andy Velasquez, told NBC News.
The suspects, later identified as 19-year-old Josue Daniel Castaneda Ramirez and his brother, 28-year-old Rony Aristides Castaneda Ramirez, attacked the groom when he tried to defend his family, according to Velasquez.
Police were called to the residence for a report of a fight at approximately 2:20 a.m., KABC reported.
They initially located two assault victims among the partygoers, both of whom suffered minor injuries.
But the officers soon learned that Melgoza was missing, resulting in a search of the surrounding area.
The bludgeoned groom was found in the backyard of a nearby residence.
He was rushed to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead, KABC reported.
His cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma to the head, according to NBC News.
“They came and they murdered my brother,” Velasquez told the news outlet. “My brother did no wrong. They took him from us.”
In addition to his new wife, Melgoza also leaves behind an 11-year-old daughter, of whom he had sole custody.
“My brother did not deserve to die like that,” he continued. “He was a good man. He was a solid man.”
The suspects were apprehended at their residence in the 5800-block of Chino Avenue without incident later on Sunday afternoon, KABC reported.
On Tuesday, prosecutors charged them with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon and first-degree murder, according to Oxygen.
Melgoza’s family insists that neither he nor anyone else who attended the wedding celebration had ever met his attackers, NBC News reported.
“They don’t have any relationship to the victim or anybody else at the reception,” Chino Police Department Sergeant Dustin Tomicic confirmed, according to Oxygen.
A fundraising campaign established to help Melgoza’s family in the wake of their loss has raised over $39,000.
“The story is horrific,” Sgt. Tomicic told Oxygen. “I can only imagine the grief that the family is going through, and pain, and I wish them the best in this healing process.”
According to Melgoza’s family, he and Esther knew each other for nearly a decade before they began dating one year ago.
“Everybody had an amazing time,” Velasquez said of his brother’s wedding. “Everybody was so happy. My brother looked so handsome. I just remember seeing him smile — and his smile was so big…And then the best night of his life turned into the worst.”
The family’s primary focus now is Melgoza’s young daughter, Lilly.
“We don’t know how to console her or how to explain that he’s not going to be here no more and it breaks my heart,” Velasquez told Oxygen. “She says, ‘I miss my daddy,’ and we can’t do nothing for her.”