Emma and Henry Gonzales stood outside the courthouse in downtown Woodland Wednesday afternoon and tried to find words for the impossible.
Peter Alexander Gonzales, the youngest of their four children, is dead at 23, stabbed early Saturday at a downtown Davis nightclub. His mother and father were at the courthouse to see two of the men prosecutors believe responsible for his death, to appeal to the community to help investigators in their hunt for a third suspect, and to take their son back home.
Yolo County prosecutors filed murder charges against the two men, Martyn Alex Contreras, 25, and Zackary Thomas Sandeno, 21, both of Vacaville, arrested in the stabbing at KetMoRee, a popular club in the city’s downtown. Gonzales, of Hacienda Heights in the Los Angeles area, was taken to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento where he died of his wounds.
“It’s indescribable. It’s unbelievable. It’s everybody’s worst nightmare,” Henry Gonzales said. “These individuals devastated our family, but they haven’t ended our family.”
Peter Gonzales wanted to teach and focused keenly on children with special needs, his mother said. He coached third-graders in basketball and cross-country at a school there, she said, worked with autistic children as a behavior interventionist and was a student at California State University, Dominguez Hills, in Carson.
Henry Gonzales said his son also had a mischievous side, defying his ban on long haircuts. Peter’s reason: He grew his hair long for Locks of Love, the nonprofit that provides hairpieces to children who suffered long-term medical hair loss.
“He was finishing school. He had goals and dreams. He was in love,” Henry Gonzales said.
Contreras and Sandeno appeared briefly Wednesday afternoon in Yolo Superior Court and will return in October to continue their arraignment after requesting private counsel, said prosecuting Yolo County Deputy District Attorney Garrett Hamilton.
Hamilton, in his charging document, also alleged Contreras and Sandeno are members of a criminal street gang. Contreras was arrested Sunday in connection with the killing and authorities arrested Sandeno on Monday, said Davis police officials. Both are being held in Yolo County custody.
But a third man, who authorities identified as Joseph Sandeno, 20, of Vacaville, remains at large.
Henry Gonzales appealed for the public’s help to find him.
“There are people who know (what happened), who’ve seen things.” he said.
Contreras and Zackary Sandeno return to Yolo Superior Court Oct. 5. The next day would have been Peter Gonzales’ 24th birthday.