Warning: This article includes a graphic image, below, that some readers may find disturbing.
Dozens of people gathered Monday evening at an altar of candles and flowers and photos of Omar Cureno Rayon, 34, who died early Saturday morning after being stabbed outside of Cava 22, a bar near 22nd and Bartlett streets.
Cureno and his friend Jorge were both stabbed on Friday night at around midnight after an altercation with three strangers broke out as they left the bar. They had enjoyed an evening of drinks and dancing, said Cureno’s girlfriend, Viridiana Robledo, who was present that night and escaped with only minor injuries.
“We’re just awaiting justice, awaiting justice,” Robledo said in Spanish. “No human being deserves to die like this.”
Cureno’s friend Jorge survived, but Cureno, who was known amongst friends as Apache and was a resident of South San Francisco, died after being transported to San Francisco General Hospital, the Medical Examiner confirmed. His Facebook page shows he may have worked at a construction company.
“We were dancing together, joking around,” said Robledo, who had been dating Cureno for nearly four years and lived with him in South San Francisco. After dinner, along with a couple of Cureno’s friends, they decided to stick around for mariachi Friday. Robledo said they had been going to Cava 22 for years.
Just before midnight, they decided to leave, Robledo said, and when they got outside, the three men were talking with Cava 22’s security guard.
“They started to taunt and provoke [us],” Robledo said. She said she didn’t know why they were laughing, and why the security guard seemed to be friendly with the men. As an argument started, Jorge’s girlfriend, Monse, asked the security guard to make the men go away.
Suddenly, Robledo said, the men were attacking them, and she and Monse were trying to break everyone apart. The security guard, who was outside by the door, refused to intervene, Robledo said.
Cava 22 was closed on Monday and has not responded to phone calls from Mission Local.
“I don’t know where the knife came from,” Robledo said. Before she knew what hit her, she was knocked to the pavement and saw Jorge and Cureno on the sidewalk ahead of her.
Robledo said Monse made a call to police at 12:17 a.m.; in the meantime, Robledo held Cureno’s hand, telling him that help was on the way.
Police officers report their arrival on the 3200 block of 22nd Street at around 12:19 a.m., when the area is usually lively with Friday night revelers entering and exiting nearby bars like the Make Out Room and Latin American Club, grabbing pizza at Gabriella’s, or congregating out front of where Revolution Cafe once stood, in plain view of the incident at Cava 22.
Robledo, who wasn’t severely injured, was taken to Sutter Health facility at Cesar Chavez for a superficial cut on her rib. Cureno and Jorge were taken to San Francisco General Hospital. Jorge was released later on Saturday.
The police do not have a suspect in custody, and did not release a description of the assailant. Citing an open investigation by the SFPD Homicide Detail, police said they could not confirm details about the case.
Robledo couldn’t remember the faces of the three men, but said they sounded like Chicanos who grew up in the United States, unlike her group of friends, who are not as comfortable speaking in English.
Jorge, who was also present at the candlelight vigil Monday night, mainly remembered the man with the knife: Short-haired, around six feet tall, with many tattoos, wearing a white t-shirt. And on his leg, he wore an ankle monitor.
The knife was around a foot long, he said.
“They’re easy people, they don’t fight,” said Betty Espinoza, who was attending the memorial on Monday night, of the victims. “They’re not troublemakers.”
For now, friends of Cureno, Robledo, and Jorge are trying to obtain video footage and information on the security guard from Cava 22.
“His job is to protect,” Robledo said, adding that the security guard refused to help them the night of the incident, saying he could only help patrons inside the bar. “So why is he outside enjoying ‘el show?’” she asked.
Several residents who live nearby or frequent the area had heard about what happened, but did not see the incident.
Jose Rodriguez, who works at Gabriella’s Pizza across the street from Cava 22, said that when he got off work and stepped outside, the block was already full of police, who were tending to the three victims on the ground.
Daniel, a manager at Vida SF apartments on Bartlett Street, said that staff and residents were aware of the incident and awaiting more details.
“Me and another manager sent out a memo to residents to be very vigilant and very careful,” Daniel said. He said they contacted the SFPD to request more patrol cars on the block.
Mission Local reported previously that the area was taped off by police until at least 2 a.m. Saturday morning after the incident.
Anyone with information for either incident is asked to contact the SFPD at 415-575-4444 or text a tip to TIP411 and start the message with SFPD.