“My friend is still gone.”
That was Sergio Perez’s reaction to news Thursday that an arrest had been made in the senseless killing of a prep cook outside a Mission district eatery on Aug. 30.
Perez worked alongside slain 22-year-old Gaspar Puch-Tzek at Hog and Rocks restaurant. He said he is both sad and angry at the loss of his friend and neighbor.
“It’s good that [the suspect] won’t be able to kill more people,” Perez said. “But I don’t feel better.”
Investigators say two Norteño gangbangers mistook Puch-Tzek, 22, for a rival Sureño, as the line cook was smoking a cigarette outside the eatery at 19th and San Carlos streets.
Puch-Tzek was the opposite of a gangbanger, friends and police said. He was a father of two who worked two jobs in order to support his family in the Yucatán region of Mexico.
On Wednesday, a 15-year-old San Francisco boy was charged in connection with the slaying. His name was not released because he is a minor. He was charged with one count of homicide, two firearms violations and an enhancement for his alleged gang ties.
At the time of his arrest, the boy was locked up in San Francisco Juvenile Justice Center on unrelated charges, police said.
The killing stunned the community. On Thursday, Mission station police Capt. Greg Corrales called the crime “the most heinous” during his Mission tenure.
Puch-Tzek was smoking a cigarette outside the restaurant at the end of his shift when the suspects approached him. Co-workers said they went inside the eatery when they saw the thugs, but Puch-Tzek remained outside. He was sitting on a milk crate. After being asked what colors he claimed, one of the degenerates shot Puch-Tzek in the head, police said.
Three months before the slaying, Puch-Tzek’s father, an integral provider for the family, had died, said Perez, who is also a line cook from the Yucatán.
Puch-Tzek would work from 3:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. at Hog and Rocks and then, only a few hours later, would head to work at a nearby bakery, Perez said.
Perez described Puch-Tzek as a quiet, hard-working, selfless man.
The killing sparked fears of gang retaliation in the Mission, leading to increased police presence in the neighborhood. There hasn’t been gang violence since, Corrales said.
Police investigators say the arrest came after a monthlong investigation. Community members and merchants in the neighborhood offered tips that helped police develop “probable cause” to charge the juvenile, police said.