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Authorities identify man killed in Petaluma assault

The man who was killed this weekend in a downtown Petaluma assault has been identified as a 23-year-old Novato resident, authorities said.

Adolfo Martinez Pena was identified Monday by the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office.

Pena was pronounced dead early Sunday shortly after a Petaluma police officer found him lying in the road in the 100 block of Keller Street, according to a police report.

The officer went to the area after Pena’s friend called authorities at 1:49 a.m. to report Pena had been assaulted with a baseball bat.

Petaluma police are investigating the death as a homicide. They had not identified any suspects Monday, according to Lt. Tim Lyons. It is the city’s first homicide investigation of 2022.

While police are waiting on an autopsy to determine the cause of Pena’s death, Lyons said it was clear to authorities who found Pena that “he was definitely the victim of a violent assault.”

The events leading up to the assault remained unclear on Monday, Lyons said. Investigators were working to collect surveillance camera footage from the area and were looking for witnesses.

They were also planning to test blood collected at the scene for DNA that could potentially point to a suspect, according to Lyons.

Pena’s friend who reported the assault told detectives that there was “some kind of argument and that spilled over to a fight” before Pena was attacked with the bat, Lyons said.

But investigators have been unable to determine where Pena was before the attack, Lyons said.

“The way it was reported, it sounded like there was some kind of fight downtown and that’s what we’ve got to figure out, how that happened,” Lyons said. He noted that, aside from a pizza restaurant, “the only places that are open at that time are the bars.”

Pena’s body was found near a Keller Street parking garage that is a popular place for downtown bar patrons to park, Lyons said. The closest business is a shared office space, which was closed by the time Pena was found, but has security cameras, he noted.

Lyons said somebody besides Pena was taken from Keller Street in an ambulance after the attack, but investigators did not know who the person was or if the person was connected to the incident.

Police urged anyone with information about Sunday’s incident to call Detective Corie Joerger at 707-778-4372.

About two dozen people gathered on Keller Street to honor Pena Sunday night. They taped pictures of Pena to a tree, lit candles, played reggaeton music, sipped drinks and prayed.

Pena’s girlfriend, 22-year-old Cindy Rodas of Novato, said she was shocked to hear that Pena had been in a fight. She said she never saw him angry and he seemingly “didn’t have a problem with anyone.”

Rodas, who hugged the tree where Pena’s photos were displayed, said her boyfriend had a welcoming personality and was constantly the life of the party.

The two of them had plans for a vacation to Mexico next month to celebrate Rodas’ birthday.

"He didn't deserve this," Rodas said. "He was always so happy. We're all here celebrating him. We love him so much. He was such a cool person."

Kevin Caldaron, who knew Pena for some 15 years, described his friend as a down-to-earth skateboarder who was always laughing and smiling.

"I've never met anyone like him," Caldaron said.

Anibal Tejeda, who grew up playing soccer with Pena, said he’ll miss the way his friend brightened up any room he entered.

"I'm going to miss his presence," the 21-year-old Novato resident said. "He was such a genuine person. The way he cared for other people ... always spreading good energy wherever he went."

You can reach Staff Writer Matt Pera at matthew.pera@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @Matt__Pera.

Mya Constantino

Features reporter

Stories can inspire you, make you laugh, cry and sometimes, heal. I love a feature story that can encapsulate all of those things. I cover the interesting people that exist around us, art and music that move us and the hidden gems that make Sonoma County pretty cool. Let's explore those things together.

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