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But Soltani wasn’t able to get the order legally served. Deputies who tried to serve the papers were told that Diaz was out of state and that he wouldn’t be back for a week. At the time, Diaz was living with his longtime girlfriend at her gated home in Carlsbad. Soltani said he believed somebody was lying on Diaz’s behalf.

Then Soltani came up with a plan. He changed the locks on the gates at the gym. The day he knew Diaz would show up, he sent two big guys to the gym to wait for him. They would hand Diaz the restraining order through the chain-link fence.

So on Monday morning, February 15, when Diaz drove his truck up to the gates of the gym as usual, he found that he was locked out. Raul Gutierrez and Peter Moreno were waiting with the restraining order. This did not cause Diaz to go away quietly. First, he tried to make a run at the fence, but he was not able to get over it. Then Diaz dialed 911 to report two burglars inside “his” gym. About the same time, Raul Gutierrez phoned Soltani to report on how the plan was going. By the time Soltani arrived with supporting legal paperwork, he found his two tough guys on their bellies inside the gym with their hands cuffed behind them. Four or five sheriff’s squad cars and a helicopter surrounded the gym. Eventually, deputies released Raul Gutierrez and Peter Moreno and served the restraining order on Diaz.

Ten days later, on February 25, Ricky Gutierrez had his first professional fight. The day before, Gil attended the weigh-in, and they met up with professional cut man Albert Gamez, who attends to injuries during a fight. It was the first time they had met. “Hector kept asking me about Mark,” said Gamez. “He had been receiving threats from Mark.” Gil told Gamez, “That fool’s been threatening me.”

Albert Gamez had known Mark Diaz for six years. “He has helped me in the corner with my son.” Gamez’s 16-year-old son is an amateur boxer.

Diaz had called Gamez asking him “not to help Ricky” at his fight the next day. Diaz wanted the cut man to stay “on his side” and told Gamez to “do the right thing, don’t help him.” Diaz sounded angry and even threatened to sue Gamez. The cut man tried to explain that he did not take sides, that he worked for any fighter who needed his services.

Gamez said he listened to a couple of messages on Gil’s cell phone. “There was a lot of profanity,” Gamez recalled. “He was going to blast him or shoot him,” is what Gamez remembered. It was an angry tone. “You’re fucking with the wrong person. You watch, you watch, you’re going to get yours,” Gamez heard. Although the person did not leave his name, Gamez said he recognized Diaz’s voice.

Ricky Gutierrez’s fight was held at the Four Points by Sheraton San Diego. “My boy lost the fight,” said Raul Gutierrez, but everyone was proud of Ricky, agreeing his fight was the best of the night. A few minutes after the fight ended, after 10:00 p.m., Diaz called Raul Gutierrez on his cell phone, but Raul chose not to pick up the call. “Mark called me, I never answered,” he said later.

After Ricky Gutierrez broke his contract with Diaz, Diaz took him to small-claims court, asking to be reimbursed for expenses such as the medical assessment that Gutierrez needed to get his “book,” the state license that allowed him to compete as a boxer. In arbitration, Gutierrez agreed to pay Diaz $3000 in monthly $75 payments. The court document was signed March 15.

Pro fighter Danny Perez, on left, with his new trainer, soon-to-be murder victim Hector Gil.

Another fighter who switched from Mark Diaz to Hector Gil was Danny Perez. On April 2, Perez was featured in a Las Vegas fight. It was a Friday night, and the fight was televised. Gil was there, but he kept leaving the side of the boxing ring, reportedly because he was nervous and afraid.

Bill Dean replaced convicted murderer Mark Diaz as manager of the boxing gym.

By Wednesday, April 7, Bill Dean was established as the new head trainer at the gym in Vista. Soltani had brought him in. “My duty was to take over the gym and manage it,” Dean said later. Soltani told his new manager that the smoking and drinking going on around the gym made a bad impression on parents; he said it was part of a bad atmosphere left over from when Diaz was running things. It was agreed that Dean would put a stop to it.

Dean opened the gym a little after 11:00 a.m., worked all day, and was instructing an evening class when he smelled cigarette smoke. He poked his head out the doorway and saw Gil and Peter Moreno lounging around the stairs that led up to the trailer door, smoking and drinking. Dean told them it didn’t look good for the students to see that, and after the men acknowledged that they had heard him, Dean went back to his training. About 8:30 p.m., after Dean finished up his last chores, he called out to Gil to be sure to lock up, and then he left.

Ricky Gutierrez had arrived at the gym a little after 7:00 p.m. that night. The gym normally closed about that time, but they kept it open for him because everybody was so proud of their local fighter. Gutierrez’s next fight was scheduled for three weeks away. He worked out in front of a group of admirers and finished about 8:30.

Nico Lopez lived a block from the gym, and he loved to go there to train and hang out. He had recently gotten his book. But his trainer, Diaz, got kicked out of the gym. “I like boxing, I love boxing, and I wanted to keep doing it,” Lopez said. He’d left messages on Diaz’s cell phone, trying to get his paperwork. “It was very important, ’cause that’s what I needed to compete.” Finally, on April 7, Diaz returned his call. “He sounded down. Not happy. You could just hear it,” Lopez remembered. “He asked how I was doing.” When Lopez asked for his book, “He said he would get it to me.”

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