Although Jesus Sandoval had spent the last six years of his life living with a friend’s family in Potrero Hill, the Mission – where the 35-year-old spent much of his youth – remained his stomping grounds.
“He loved to go to the Mission and meet friends. He’d come to the Mission to go out,” said Rebecca Muzquiz. For some six years, Sandoval had been living with her aunt and other family members in their Potrero Hill home. Sandoval was born on Christmas Eve of 1981, in Gilroy, California.
While the families had known each other for years, during that time she and Sandoval, who went by the nickname Jesse, became close friends. During the day, she said, he worked as a mover’s assistant with a number of different moving companies – a job that would sometimes take him across the country.
On Sunday, Sandoval headed to the Mission for a night out, according to Muzquiz who spoke with him at her aunt’s house that evening.
“I remember Jesse asking me for hair gel before he went out,” she said, adding that he generally wore his long, curly hair tightly pulled back.
That conversation took place around 9:30 p.m., said Muzquiz. It was their last.
Hours later, at 2:30 a.m. on Monday, Sandoval was found by police outside of El Farolito suffering from a gunshot wound. He later succumbed to his injuries.
Police said he was gunned down outside of the popular late-night taqueria, just steps away from the 24th and Mission BART Plaza.
Sandoval, whose parents were from Mexico, had a deep love for food and music from his culture, said Muzquiz.
“I’m sure he was getting a burrito,” she said, speculating on what had taken Sandoval to the area on the morning of his death. Police are investigating the shooting and have not released any details about the events that led up to it. No arrests have been made.
On Tuesday, two candles and a bouquet of red roses propped up against a tree in front of the taqueria served to remind those who walked by the busy BART Plaza that a life had been lost there some 24 hours earlier.
“Jesse was very loved,” said Muzquiz. “I don’t want him to just be a victim. He was somebody.”
Sandoval was raised by his grandmother, Beatrice Miranda, with whom he shared a close bond until Miranda’s death.
“She was all he talked about until the day he died,” said Sandoval’s biological aunt, who gave her name as Patricia. “He’s with his beloved grandmother now.”
Muzquiz, the family friend, said that the news of his death had come as a shock to those closest to him.
Sandoval had no known enemies, she said, adding that he “did get in trouble here and there, but I don’t think it was anything major.”
“My cousin didn’t want to believe it. He said, ‘Jesse is coming home,’” said Muzquiz, describing the moment her family received the news of Sandoval’s death.
There, at her aunt’s home, Sandoval was considered family. “Years ago, he needed a place to stay and my aunt took him in like a son,” she said.
While living with Muzquiz’ aunt, Sandoval took on household duties, particularly cooking.
“His grandma taught him how to cook Mexican food, so he could cook off the charts,” Muzquiz said.
He also formed a close bond with the family’s dog, a pit bull named Zeus, and proactively cared for him.
During her recovery from knee surgery, Muzquiz said that Sandoval would take her on “walking challenges” and care for her in other ways.
“He would comb [my] hair,” said Muzquiz. “He was like the little brother that everybody wanted.”
Passionate about dancing and music, Sandoval was known to sing along out loud to car radio tunes and break out in dance to rancheras. Sandoval was also passionate about traveling and according to his friend, did quite a bit of it through his job.
“He’d send us pictures of him when he was in the snow. I’d be like, ‘Jesse, where are you now? He went to Washington, New York, Florida – he loved to go on long road trips with the moving company,” she said.
Sandoval was also the estranged father of a little boy, whom Muzquiz estimated to be about nine-years-old. He lives out of state.
“That was his goal, to get back in touch with his son,” said Muzquiz. “He wanted to be a part of his son’s life again.”
Sandoval is survived by his son, mother, a brother and a sister, and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins. His family is asking members of the public who wish to contribute to the funeral costs to donate via a GoFundMe campaign.
This story has been updated to reflect new information from Sandoval’s family.