[UPDATE NO.2, March 4, 7:50 P.M.: Santa Ana police have arrested suspect Juan Angel Rivera, 21, of Santa Ana, who will be charged with the murder of Nathan Joe Alfaro.]
[UPDATE NO.1, MARCH 4, 12:50 P.M.: The victim was Nathan Joe Alfaro, 23, of Westminster, according to the Santa Ana Police Department.]
The incident on 220 E. Third St. occurred during a weekly installment of Top Acid Thursdays, a club night hosted by the DIY Santa Ana nomadic venue created by Chris Gonzalez. The suspect—described as a short, Hispanic man with long hair tied back in a bun—was seen aggressively moshing in the crowd during the show before a fight broke out in the underground club. The stabbing happened just after 10:30 p.m.
Laena Geronimo, vocalist/guitarist for Feels, says the suspect was definitely pissing off the the crowd with his one-man mosh pit while the second band Ghali was playing and was even attacking people on the outskirts of the room away from the band. “Not moshing in a punk way,” Geronimo says. “More like ‘this is my excuse to fuck people up’ kinda style.”
The unidentified victim was described as a bigger guy who tried to control the suspect who Geronimo says appeared to be under the influence of drugs at the time of the incident. Someone even got the suspect to leave briefly, Geronimo says. But then he returned moments later and a fight broke out.
“All of the [sic] sudden it became a dog pile on the stage, it knocked over the mic, the band was still playing, the drummer was still going and it was this crazy dog pile on the stage of people swinging at each other and trying to pull people off each other,” Geronimo says. She found out later that the suspect had a knife tucked in a sheath on his belt. The victim who was stabbed was apparently tangled in the dog pile with the suspect.
Since crazy brawls aren’t all that uncommon at punk shows, it took a while for people to notice that someone had in fact been stabbed. At some point, the suspect escaped the dog pile and walked out of the club. As of now, no arrests have been made
“I didn’t think it was that bad and then I looked at the floor and there was just blood dripping everywhere,” Geronimo says. “Then the paramedics came and were opening this guy’s shirt and putting him on a gurney. It was really brutal. There was blood everywhere, it was really messed up.”
The victim later died at UCI Medical Center in Orange. The coroner has not yet released his name pending notification of next of kin.
Top Acid recently held its one year anniversary at Underground DTSA. The club’s owners were not available for comment at this time. The incident definitely calls the club’s level of security into question, but Geronimo says it’s something that could’ve easily happened anywhere.
“It’s not like it had anything to do with the show, he just seemed like a guy who left his house wanting to hurt someone.”
The band weren’t aware the man stabbed had died until they were contacted by the Weekly. Today, they posted a heartbroken message to fans on their Facebook page.
“Let’s all take something forward from this,” the note concludes. “If your’e at a show and you clock someone sketchy who’s just out to hurt other people- just driven by violence and not music- head straight for the bouncer. Don’t get us wrong, we love mosh pits. Slamming into other people can be the most fun liberating thing in the world, and yeah sometimes people get hurt-but it should NEVER be intentional. If someone falls you pick them up- there’s an unspoken camaraderie in the pit. Fuck anyone who acts otherwise. Fuck this insane violence. We are sick with the understanding that this happened before our eyes.”