In the final hours of his life, Everardo Meza did something he loved: he danced.
He was among dozens of people having a good time Saturday night at Tequila KC, a bar near 10th Street and Central Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas.
Known to loved ones as “Ever,” Meza talked to Celeste Trevino that evening. She liked him. He introduced her to some of his family members. The two danced.
“Every time we were out, he just wanted to dance,” said Toni Maciel, Trevino’s cousin.
Trevino insisted on buying him a beer early Sunday morning, but he declined. He believed men should take care of women, Maciel said. Looking back, Trevino said she wished he would have let her get him that drink.
She had been at the bar for only an hour before the horror began.
Meza and Trevino were together when two armed men walked inside and started shooting. He pushed her to the floor, away from the gunfire, she told reporters Sunday afternoon through tears.
It’s likely why she got out alive, she said.
“He saved me,” Trevino said.
Trevino heard repeated shots. She thought to herself: “Oh my God. Where’s Ever? Where’s Ever?”
Maciel was grateful Meza pushed her younger cousin to the ground. She described Meza, 29, as taking the bullet for her.
“He’s always going to be a hero in my eyes,” Maciel said. “I’m forever thankful of that.”
Meza was a regular at Tequila KC, where patrons of all ages gathered. It’s where he and friends usually watched his beloved Kansas City Royals and Kansas City Chiefs. Friends had plans to catch a game there Sunday, Maciel said.
“He was a great kid,” she said Monday. “He wouldn’t harm anybody.”
Meza’s immediate family could not be reached for comment Monday.
More than 80 people gathered Sunday behind the bar to remember the victims. Dozens of candles and several pictures of the men lined the back gate during the vigil. One image showed Meza and Alfredo Calderon, Jr., who was remembered as a devoted father, with one another.
“¿Por qué?” one grieving woman cried near the memorial. “¿Por qué?”
The four men were killed in the bloody rampage that left shocked relatives searching for their loved ones Sunday morning. Five other people were wounded.
Police have identified the victims as Meza, Calderon, Francisco Garcia Anaya and Martin Rodriguez-Gonzalez, 58.
Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s foreign secretary, said on Twitter that two of the men were Mexican nationals. Maciel identified them as Meza and Anaya.
“They were great men,” she said.
Two suspects in the shooting, Javier Alatorre, 23, and Hugo Villanueva-Morales, 29, have each been charged with four counts of first-degree murder. Alatorre was in custody on $1,000,000 bond and Villanueva-Morales remained at large.
Detectives said they have yet to determine a specific motive for the shooting. Witnesses described one of the suspects as getting involved in a fight outside the bar before returning later, armed and with an accomplice.