Family members mourn Santa Rosa victims of Twin Peaks shooting

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Seated before a memorial altar for her 21-year-old son in her living room, Sylvia Peraza remembered seeing him for the last time Saturday, hours before he would be gunned down atop San Francisco’s Twin Peaks lookout.

The young man, Julio Peraza, came into her room at about 6:30 p.m. as she slept before her graveyard shift at a medical equipment factory and he woke her up, as he always did, with a kiss goodbye, she said.

“He said, ‘Don’t worry, I won’t be out too late,’” Sylvia Peraza said.

Peraza and two other Santa Rosa men, 19-year-old Rene Mora and an 18-year-old who has not been identified, were shot at about 2 a.m. Sunday by a gunman who then carjacked an SUV to flee the scene, police said. Mora died on the hill and Peraza was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The 18-year-old was still fighting for his life Tuesday at a San Francisco hospital, police said.

Police on Monday night apprehended a suspect, 27-year-old Richard Contreras, who was booked into the San Francisco Jail Tuesday on suspicion of two counts of murder, attempted murder, carjacking, possession of a firearm by a felon and assault with a semiautomatic firearm, records show.

Police have offered no clues as to what led to the shooting, other than stating the gunman “targeted the victims.” Gang investigators have joined homicide detectives in the investigation.

San Francisco Police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said it was too soon to say whether gang involvement had anything to do with the shooting.

“We have one person in custody who has the right to not speak with us and we have one person fighting for his life in the hospital,” Esparza said. “It’s really hard to get the information, preliminarily. We are working to see why this occurred and why they were targeted.”

At Mora’s Santa Rosa home in a neighborhood off West College Avenue, family members gathered in the living room. His mother, Angela Mora, sobbed in the arms of relatives, in front of a series of large portraits of her middle child from prom and a family wedding that had been hung on the wall.

“I still expect him to walk through the door,” Angela Mora said. “He was a really good kid.”

His cousin Ricardo Mora, 23, of Santa Rosa said that Mora was a “jokester” with a big heart who had attended Elsie Allen and graduated from Ridgway High School, a continuation program.

Mora’s family said that they did not know the other men with him that night, but that he often drove to San Francisco to see the sights.

Ricardo Mora said that they also didn’t recognize the name of the suspect, and he spent time Tuesday searching the Internet for any clues that might help them understand why Mora encountered him that night. He found none.

He said they are adamant that Mora was “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“He was still so young; his life was ahead of him” Ricardo Mora said.

Peraza’s family said he also had attended Elsie Allen before he dropped out.

Peraza worked for a poultry plant in Petaluma and had just nabbed a second job at Lola’s. Mora was working in landscaping and had taken initial steps toward joining the Army Reserves, his cousin said.

Mora’s girlfriend, Ana Diaz, 19, said that she’s convinced it was “just a random attack,” although she said that Mora was with a group of friends he wouldn’t let her hang out with.

Diaz said she woke up Sunday to a slew of missed phone calls, and she rushed to Mora’s house and had to give his family the terrible news. She said that Mora was with a group of people but that they’ve said little about what took place, just that it happened fast.

“I’ve been sleeping in his room; I still think it is a joke and he’s going to show up,” said Diaz, who had an on-again-off-again relationship with Mora over two years. “He always came home, he always sleeps here, even if it’s 3, 5 o’clock in the morning.”

Esparza shared little about how police linked Contreras to the shooting. He said it wasn’t clear whether Contreras and the men he allegedly shot knew each other.

After somehow learning Contreras might have been the triggerman, officers put a Richmond residence where he’d been living under surveillance.

Bay Area media reported that a GMC Yukon Denali the gunman carjacked was parked near Contreras’ residence.

Esparza declined to say whether the GMC was key to police finding or identifying Contreras.

Contreras was arrested by both Richmond and San Francisco police officers Monday night as he drove away from the residence on San Pablo Avenue.

He was booked into the San Francisco Jail on Tuesday on suspicion of two counts of murder, attempted murder, carjacking, possession of a firearm by a felon and assault with a semiautomatic firearm, records show.

You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 521-5220 or julie.johnson@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @jjpressdem.

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