Marlene DeLeon stood before a small makeshift altar Monday afternoon as four votive candles burned on the sidewalk near a cluster of bouquets and traffic on Geary Boulevard surged toward Polk Street.
A photo of DeLeon and her husband Joshua Mejia was taped to the wall of the Marquette Apartments, a few feet away from where Mejia was shot and killed early Sunday morning, just days after the couple’s anniversary July 14.
“He was full of life,” DeLeon said about her husband Monday afternoon. “He was happy.”
The last time DeLeon saw her husband was Saturday night, before he went out with friends. She learned of Mejia’s death on Sunday. “He was shot,” she said before pointing to the center of Geary Boulevard.
Mejia, originally from the Dominican Republic, worked in a mental health crisis unit for Marin County, according to DeLeon.
“He was one of the nicest, kind-hearted men I’ve ever known,” said Eric Swift, who was Mejia’s supervisor at Marin County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services.
Swift said Mejia’s work with the crisis stabilization unit entailed helping people who were struggling with suicidal thoughts or having severe mental crises. Mejia was also the unit’s Spanish translator and even appeared on Spanish-language radio to talk about mental health.
“He could go anywhere in our system and just fit right in in a heartbeat,” Swift said. “He’s been like the most model employee I’ve probably ever had. He was so good to other people, selfless. It’s a shame that such a nice young man was taken from us.”
Police have released minimal information about what occurred early Sunday morning after Mejia and a group of friends exited a bar on Geary Street between Polk and Larkin streets.
A fight involving Mejia or his friends broke out around 2 a.m., according to police. Then, after the fight subsided, a car drove up and a suspect got out of the car and opened fire.
One of Mejia’s friends was wounded, and Mejia was killed.
Eaid, a 23-year-old man who works at a nearby pizza parlour and would only provide his first name, said he heard the shots and a group of people came into the store.
“All I heard was gunshots, that’s all,” Eaid said.
DeLeon said her husband was just at “the wrong place at the wrong time.”
As a group of Mejia’s friends and family prepared his memorial on Monday with DeLeon, Brandon Nguyen stood across the street smoking a cigarette outside of his store All City Knife Shop.
“This is really what happens all the time,” Nguyen said of the neighborhood’s frequent violent crime. “It just seems kind of normal to me.”
Mejia’s death marks the 28th homicide in San Francisco this year.
Marlene DeLeon writes a message on a memorial for her husband, Joshua Mejia, on Geary Street Monday, July 19, 2016. Meija was shot and killed near Geary and Post streets in the early hours of Sunday, July 18, 2016 in San Francisco, Calif. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)
Read more criminal justice news on the Crime Ink page in print. Follow us on Twitter: @sfcrimeinkCrimeEric SwiftGearyJoshua MejiaMarin County Behavioral Health and Recovery ServicesMarlene DeLeonSan FranciscoShooting