Gwinnett County

Shooting at Gwinnett baby shower leaves father of 6 dead

NORCROSS, Ga. — A Gwinnett County family is in disbelief after a deadly shooting at a baby shower claimed the life of a father of six.

Angel Mendoza, 39, died Sunday morning at a house on Pepperwood Trail in Norcross, according to Gwinnett County Police.

Witnesses told police that Mendoza, acting out of safety concerns, took a gun away from a guest he did not know who had just accidentally shot himself in the foot.

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Esteven Avila-Vega, 26, was arrested Sunday afternoon and charged with murder.

His girlfriend, Sulma Mejia-Orellana, 26, was arrested for aggravated assault for allegedly hitting Mendoza over the head with a beer bottle prior to the deadly shooting, according to police.

Witnesses told police Avila-Vega left the party at around one in the morning upset because his gun had been taken from him.

He allegedly came back with a different gun and shot the father of six multiple times.

The shooting occurred as the baby shower was winding down and most guests had left, according to family.

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“It’s tough right now,” said a friend of Mendoza’s who asked not to be identified. “I can’t believe he’s gone.”

Mendoza and his wife were guests at the baby shower and did not know the couple charged, according to friends and family.

“I don’t wish no one to feel this type of pain that the family and the wife is feeling,” the friend said.

Mendoza’s mother has been holding onto photos of her son since his death.

She says he worked hard as a handyman and roofer while picking up jobs refereeing soccer games to support his family.

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In an interview with Univision Atlanta in Spanish, she said her son’s killer showed no heart and doesn’t deserve to be free.

Now Mendoza’s loved ones say they are staying strong for his wife and children.

“We’re always going to remember him and the smile he had on his face,” the friend said.

Mendoza’s friends are raising money to support his wife and children with funeral expenses through a GoFundMe campaign.

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