MARTINEZ -- In a courtroom filled with the victims' grieving family members, two West Contra Costa County gang members were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the ambush murders of two friends inside a Richmond restaurant in 2009.
Judge Barbara Zuniga sentenced Steven Valencia Miranda, 24, and Ignacio Ruiz, 32, on Friday to two consecutive sentences of life in prison without the possibility of parole, plus an additional 50 years to life. They had been convicted by jury in February of two counts of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, gang participation and numerous charge enhancements.
"You executed him like cowards. He didn't even know you existed. He didn't even see you. Yet, you killed him and his friend," a relative of 23-year-old Alvaro Garcia-Pena told the San Francisco man's killers. The victims' family members are not being named in this story because of fear of gang retaliation.
Garcia-Pena and Intez Ahmed, 32, of Richmond, were having a beer at Alvarado Pit Boss Bar and Grill on San Pablo Avenue when two gang members came in and shot them dead with a shotgun. The gang chose the victims because they were wearing red, the color claimed by their rival gang, prosecutor Aron DeFerrari said.
Ahmed worked at a boat shop and was the father of two girls. Garcia-Pena was an advocate against violence, having lost his 19-year-old brother in a gang shooting in San Francisco five years earlier.
DeFerrari said Ruiz was the mastermind and getaway driver, and Miranda fired a revolver into the floor and a door inside the bar. Eliseo Flores, 26, fired the shotgun that killed the victims; he pleaded to two counts of first-degree murder in exchange for a 25-years-to-life sentence in 2011.
Victor Torres, 22, the lookout, pleaded to voluntary manslaughter and gang enhancements in April and was sentenced to 21 years.
Ahmed's wife was coming out of the restaurant's bathroom when Miranda and Flores, masked in bandannas, walked in and opened fire at her husband and Garcia-Pena, who had their backs to the door.
"I wish you guys would have killed me in that bar," Ahmed's widow told Miranda and Ruiz on Friday. "Everyone says that there is a hell and a heaven -- we are already in hell."
DeFerrari said the gang was caught that night because of "inspired" work by the Richmond Police Department. Officers saw the victims' red clothing and, suspecting that the shooting was gang-related, sent a patrol car to Ruiz's house, a known gang hangout.
There, they found the crew in the middle of burning their bloody clothes. The guns used were retrieved from under Ruiz's bed.
Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.