A Modesto man severely beaten in a fight was expected to be taken off life support Sunday night after surgeons removed his organs, his mother said.
"If he was a gangbanger, maybe this would make more sense," Glenda Tobia said of her son David Cingcon, 23. "But this is a kid that was never looking for any trouble. He was even nice to the neighbors. I wouldn't imagine him having an enemy. He was a homebody."
Friends said Cingcon and Derrick Thomas, one of the suspects arrested in the assault, played football together at Johansen High School and remained friends after graduation.
"David and Derrick had spent the night at each other's houses. They had been there for each other with anything and everything: girls, parents, everything," said Brennen Whitten, Cingcon's best friend.
Never miss a local story.
The assault, Cingcon's friends said, was related to words over a young woman.
Police arrested several men and a minor in connection with the Wednesday night assault: Thomas, 22, and David Mayfield, 20, both of Modesto; Eddie Polk, 19, of Turlock; and a 17-year-old Modesto boy whose name was not released.
A fourth man, Brian Warren, 19, was arrested and then released after police decided his actions were "not directly related to Cingcon's condition," said Sgt. Craig Gundlach of the Modesto Police Department.
The other men are being held at the downtown jail on bail of $1 million each. They were arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, Gundlach said. Detectives and prosecutors will meet to discuss the case today.
"Some if not all of the defendants may face murder charges," Gundlach said.
A court hearing for three of the suspects is scheduled today, according to the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department Web site. No information was available about the 17-year-old because of confidentiality rules involving juveniles.
Whitten, 22, of Modesto was with Cingcon on Wednesday night in the Burger King parking lot near Oakdale Road and Sylvan Avenue, where the fight happened. Whitten sunk his head into his hands Sunday as he described that night.
"It was all over a girl," he said.
The dispute revolved around a comment Cingcon supposedly made about an ex-girlfriend of Thomas', Whitten said, but he did not elaborate. The young woman called Cingcon and arranged to meet him at the Bur-ger King. Whitten and Cingcon arrived around 11:40 p.m. The woman never showed up. Instead, Thomas and his friends arrived, Whitten said.
"It got out of control real fast," Whitten said.
Jorrell Gilbert, 23, of Modesto wasn't there that night but has known Cingcon since they were freshmen at Johansen. He also knows Thomas.
"I don't think anybody knew it was going to go that far," Gilbert said.
According to Whitten, Cingcon didn't try to fight. He tried to run, but Thomas and his friends caught the young man, who stood about 5 feet 2 inches tall and weighed 125 pounds, Cingcon's friends said.
When police arrived, Cingcon was on his back in the parking lot. He had severe head injuries and was having trouble breathing, Gundlach said. Cingcon was taken to Doctors Medical Center. He never regained consciousness, friends and family said.
Cingcon graduated from Johansen High in 2003.
"He was a real popular guy," Whitten said. "He never had any problems with anyone."
Whitten said he'll remember how Cingcon, who studied gymnastics, was always doing back flips. He had a passion for video games, football and basketball. And Cingcon always was dancing, friends said.
"When I met him, he was dancing," said Whitten, who transferred to Johansen in 2001. "I saw him one day at lunch and wondered, 'Who is that dude doing the James Brown dance?' We've been best friends ever since."
Cingcon planned to become an auto mechanic. He had gone to school to study auto mechanics in Sacramento but returned to Modesto in September.
Cingcon's 16-year-old brother said that since he came home, and especially in the past two weeks, the 23-year-old had started sharing with the teenager "as if he were going away."
"In the last couple weeks, he started talking about life and living right," Keelan Tobia said. " 'Take care of mom, do the right thing, go to college, continue drumming. Make me proud.' "
Keelan said he went to the hospital Wednesday night to say goodbye to his brother.
"He couldn't really hear us," he said. "I went in there, but I didn't want to see his face, all the damage. I went in and rubbed his feet, held his hand. My grandma told him, 'Keelan's here.' "
Glenda Tobia said her son's funeral is scheduled Saturday.
Modesto police ask anyone with information about this assault to call CrimeStoppers at 521-4636.
Bee staff writer Emilie Raguso can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2235.