By Joanna Meza
A 21-year-old Santa Ana man was arrested on suspicion of murder following a fatal stabbing March 3 at a music venue in downtown Santa Ana, police said.
Juan Angel Rivera has been charged with killing Nathan Joe Alfaro, who was stabbed in the moshpit of a Top Acid-promoted show inside Underground DTSA. Rivera was set to be arraigned March 8 but the hearing was rescheduled for March 25.
Oscar Ramirez, a friend of Alfaro who was present at the event and was set to perform with The Hurricanes, remembers seeing Rivera leaving through the back exit with a group of people.
“I recall seeing the guy leaving quickly with two or three girls and one guy, I believe. My friend and I noticed his shirt ripped up and he pointed out that there must’ve been a fight inside,” Ramirez said.
“I did not know what had happened because I was unloading my gear outside,” Ramirez added.
Witnesses say Alfaro stumbled outside and was bleeding as he fell into the arms of one of his friends after a fight broke out in the middle of Ghali’s set.
“I couldn’t believe it. I rushed over to see him and as I went, he was collapsing on the wall outside the main entrance. People were exiting and looking and another friend was holding him,” Ramirez said.
Paramedics took Alfaro, already in critical condition, to UCI Medical Center in Orange, where he was pronounced dead.
“We were close friends. He was here just to have a good time, he loved music,” fellow musician Nick Espinoza said.
Underground DTSA has yet to reopen.
Alfaro, 23, was going through a tough time in his life, and immersed himself in the music scene after his father committed suicide last year, his friend and bandmate David Espinoza said.
“He was doing great. His vibe was positive. He had moved in with his uncle and finally had his own room,” Espinoza said.
Lopez, along with his brother Nick and Alfaro, formed a band named The West Boys. They performed around Orange County. The band played at a Burger Records show last year.
“He was so stoked. I couldn’t believe it, he made one of his dreams come true, and we opened up for 60s punk legends The Sloths,” Espinoza said.
Alfaro and his friends had taken a break from playing due to work and class schedules, but they had kept in contact and were planning on starting up again. Alfaro was taking courses at Golden West College, where he worked in the cafeteria.
“We talked about getting back to playing shows together and totally just imagining and brainstorming ideas for the band. ‘Dude, we are going to be so sick!’,” Espinoza recalls Alfaro saying. “We had plans to do a LP and release it soon. We were both excited and looking forward to it. I’m so sad right now that we can never have that chance again.”
Top Acid will be hosting a benefit concert Sunday April 3 at the Yost Theatre to raise money for Alfaro’s family.
“I believe the music scene will still triumph and continue to grow. In his honor.” Ramirez said.