Yuba City resident Elias Garibay was enjoying dinner Friday at Tortilleria Flores in Yuba City when a woman ran into the restaurant, holding her infant child and trying to get away from her allegedly abusive partner.

The man followed the woman inside of the crowded restaurant. Garibay got between the man and the woman, according to his niece, Sonia Garibay, and attempted to stop the man from causing the woman anymore harm. 

That’s when the suspect allegedly shot Garibay in the head. Sonia Garibay said her uncle was the only person in the restaurant who intervened. 

Elias Garibay remains in critical condition at the UC Davis Medical Center, after undergoing surgery. Sonia Garibay said doctors are waiting for swelling to go down to assess the extent of the damage done to Garibay’s brain. 

“He’s fighting for his life,” Sonia Garibay said. 

She said the restaurant was busy when the alleged shooting took place and people hid in the restaurant kitchen and took cover when the shooting occurred. Victor Esquivel, 35, of Yuba City, who was identified as the suspect, fled the scene. 

The Yuba City Police Department said Saturday that it believed Garibay and Esquivel had been in an argument earlier in the day Friday. 

Sonia Garibay said that did not take place. 

She said her uncle has “always been a good person.”

Esquivel remains in Southern California where he was arrested by California Highway Patrol in the early hours of Saturday in the area of Newhall. According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department website, his bail is set at $500,000. 

Yuba City Police Department Lt. Jim Runyen said it is not yet known when Esquivel will be extradited back to Sutter County to face the charge of attempted murder, but that the department should know sometime this week.

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