Southern California wedding crashers suspected of killing groom during reception

U.S. & World

CHINO (CNN) — A joy-filled wedding in Southern California ended in a horrific tragedy.

A groom was killed on his own wedding day and his new wife went from bride to widow within hours.

The bride is still trying to make sense of what happened.

“He was happy even though he didn’t know how to dance but he did it,” said bride Esther Melgoza.

There are so many moments at Joe and Esther Melgoza’s wedding that she will remember.

But how happy her husband was that is her favorite memory.

“And you can see it in his face how happy he was just how he looked at me all day,” she said. 

Tragically, as the wedding was wrapping up around 2 a.m. Sunday morning, police say two uninvited guests identified as Rony and Josue Castaneda-Ramirez  arrived at the reception in Chino.

Witnesses says when they were asked to leave the two men began to fight with several family members, including the groom, who chased after the suspects.

Investigators say Joe was eventually found a short distance away, beaten and suffering from a head injury.

“I still can’t believe it. Why would anybody do that?” the bride said.

“Being your little brother was the biggest honor I’ve ever had bro, I just can’t believe you’re gone man,” the victim’s brother said.

Melgoza’s family says at just 30-years-old, Joe was a loving father to his 11-year-old daughter Lilly and also helped raise his younger siblings.

“He was always there for me no matter what any time I needed something he loved me so much man,” the brother said. 

But as Melgoza’s family is trying to understand why a magical night ended so tragically, Esther the bride is thanking her husband for the time they did get to spend together.

“He taught me to be brave. Thanks to him I became a wife, thanks to him I became a mother,” Melgoza said. 

The two suspects were arrested hours after the attack and they’re being held without bail.

There’s still no word on their alleged motive.

The bride’s family say no one at the wedding knew the suspects before the incident.

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