A man who was stabbed to death early Sunday in downtown Petaluma has been identified as 24-year-old Windsor resident Cristian Nunez-Castro, according to the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office.
The incident that fatally wounded Nunez-Castro and left another unnamed victim injured occurred around 1:45 a.m. on a major pedestrian thoroughfare between Kentucky and Keller streets, according to Petaluma police.
An unidentified assailant attacked the two men in their 20s before fleeing on foot in the direction of the Keller Street parking garage, leaving a trail of blood, Lt. Tim Lyons said. Police tracked the blood drops up Telephone Alley to Washington Street and into the garage, where the trail stopped, Lyons said.
A tipster reported hearing a car drive away at a “high rate of speed” around the time of the incident, Lyons said. Descriptions of the suspect and a potentially associated vehicle were not available.
Nunez-Castro was transported to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, where he died from his wounds, police said. The second victim, whose name and place of residence has not been released, was treated at the scene for a wound on his arm, police said.
Police are still trying to piece together a narrative of the events leading up to the event and are asking for the public’s help, Lyons said.
“We don’t know what initiated the altercation,” Lyons said. “We’re just trying to contact witnesses and see any surveillance video that may have been present at the time. It was 1:40 in the morning and there were not a lot of people down there except for the bar and night club crowd.”
Police Monday planned to interview the surviving victim while also talking to business owners and witnesses.
It’s not clear if the suspect and victims knew each other, police said. The two victims were acquaintances, but police don’t know if they were together before the stabbing.
Petaluma Chamber of Commerce CEO Onita Pellegrini said the business community is shaken after the unusual act of extreme violence in the heart of the city.
“Everyone is concerned,” she said. “It’s a fatality and that’s very rare for Petaluma, certainly and it’s something that would of course cause people to talk.”
She said Police Chief Ken Savano addressed the business group at its quarterly luncheon last week, offering reassurance that Petaluma’s overall crime rate remains “very low.”
“I know the police department is super on top of crime and these types of incidents,” she said. “We can take comfort in the fact that we have a strong police force.”
Lyons said the homicide is the first in Petaluma in about two years.
In 2014, Arturo Hinojosa, 49, was shot to death in his west Petaluma home. The suspect, Mikol Wayne Stewart, 37, was found dead after apparently hanging himself in his cell at the Sonoma County Jail.
An employee at Maguire’s Irish Pub, near where the stabbing took place, declined to comment Monday afternoon. Other bars in the area could not immediately be reached for comment.
Lyons asked anyone with information about Sunday’s incident to contact Detective Walt Spiller at 707-778-7372.