Joe Melgoza’s wedding day was the happiest day of his life.
Tragically, he died early the next morning.
The 30-year-old was killed early Sunday morning after a reception in his sister’s backyard, according to a press release from police in Chino, California.
Guests were dancing up a storm when two brothers who lived near by the house showed up uninvited and managed to fit in unnoticed, according to NBC Los Angeles.
However, in the early hours of the morning, after guests had been asked to leave, the suspects returned with baseball bats.
Witnesses told Los Angeles station KABC that the brothers were looking for free alcohol when they were asked to leave.
A fight broke out that ended up in a back alleyway and led to the eventual death of Melgoza, who police said suffered blunt force trauma to his head.
Responding officers began lifesaving efforts before transporting him to a nearby hospital, where he died from the injuries.
“My brother was protecting our family,” his brother Andy Velasquez told NBC Los Angeles. “They came and they murdered my brother. My brother did no wrong. They took him from us.”
Velasquez said his brother’s death was a sneak attack.
“Those cowards came back with bats. They were in the alley and it was dark,” Velasquez said. “They pulled him into the house and they killed him.”
The motivation for the attack remains under investigation, but Rony Aristides Castaneda Ramirez, 28, and Josue Daniel Castaneda Ramirez, 19, were arrested Sunday afternoon on charges of murder and assault with a deadly weapon.
They pleaded not guilty in court Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Melgoza’s relatives honored his memory Tuesday with a vigil. Esther, his bride and widow, said tearfully that despite her grief, she had still taken a nursing test because she knew he wanted her to achieve her goals.
“Today I passed my first semester,” she said, according to KABC. “I know he wanted me to pass because he worked so hard.”
Despite the tragedy, Esther is trying to focus on the good memories of Saturday versus the tragedy of Sunday.
In an interview with Los Angeles station KCBS, she pointed to a photo of her new husband’s happiness.
“You could see it in his face, how happy he was,” Esther said. “Just the way he looked at me all day.”