SANTA CRUZ -- Two days after a local martial arts instructor was gunned down outside a popular Santa Cruz night spot, police have few answers.
Several shots were fired from a car at Pauly Silva, 32, as he stood on the sidewalk outside a bar on Locust Street early Saturday morning. As of Monday afternoon, no one had been arrested on murder charges though two men were arrested early Saturday in Watsonville in a car similar to the suspect vehicle. Police decline to elaborate on their relationship to the case.
Silva, who had been involved with martial arts for several years, began training at Kaijin Mixed Martial Arts in Santa Cruz about three years ago. He'd been in the Westside studio just last week, instructor Sam Radetsky said.
"He was a really good person," Radetsky said. "He really gave of himself."
Silva was a father who worked hard as a plumber and also was devoted to martial arts. He'd trained with and under Radetsky, and was a trainer himself. Radetsky described Silva as someone who was willing to come in on his day off to help him train, someone who understood that martial arts is about more than just "putting someone down."
Friends acknowledged Silva had some troubles in his past but emphasized that he had turned his life around and was a good person. He'd been convicted of assault in 2001 and served a short stint behind bars, records at the Santa Cruz County Superior Court showed.
"It's a tragic, sudden loss that's really been felt by a lot of people," Radetsky said.
Childhood friend Carlos Flores of Santa Cruz started a Facebook page called "Never Forget Pauly Silva" and said he was amazed by how much response it has generated.
"He was a positive person doing good in the community," Flores said of his friend.
Meanwhile, Santa Cruz police continued to pursue leads in the case but no one had been arrested in connection with the slaying as of Monday afternoon.
"We still have a pretty significant puzzle," Deputy Chief Steve Clark said.
Witnesses told police the shots were fired from a green or gray 1990s model Mercedes. Shortly after the shooting, Watsonville police arrested two men in a similar car off South Green Valley Road on suspicion of gang participation, probation violations and other charges. A third person was arrested in Santa Cruz on gang charges. Police declined Monday to say whether the men are connected to the homicide.
"There are no easy answers," Clark said. "We're going to have to put in the work and continue to plow through it."
Officers have collected a good amount of forensic evidence from the scene though, and "I think that will provide a lot of clarity," he said.
Clark said police don't think Silva was a gang member.
When asked if Silva's slaying was a case of mistaken identity, Clark said only that police were "working on a few different theories."
Shots were fired at Silva's twin brother from a car on Laurel Street last month but he wasn't struck, police said. In that case, officers arrested a 20-year-old man, Jonah Namauu, on suspicion of possessing and discharging a loaded firearm.
Namauu is no longer in custody at Santa Cruz County Jail. No charges have been filed as the case is still under review by the District Attorney's Office, prosecutor Charlie Baum said.
Follow Sentinel reporter Jessica M. Pasko on Twitter at Twitter.com/jmpasko96
On the net
Pauly Silva's memorial page: https://www.facebook.com/NeverForgetPaulySilva