COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Gabriel Perez says he remembers the night on March 11 very well.
He had received a message from a friend, Gustavo Marquez, earlier in the day. Marquez invited him to a party he was going to with friends. Perez said he looked forward to seeing Derek Greer and Natalie Partida, who he’d become friends with through Marquez.
Perez says he was planning to go to the party and was even on his way when Marquez texted him and told him not to come.
“He told me ‘don't show up. There's a lot of things happening that you don't agree with,’” said Perez.
Perez did not question it at the time, and it wasn’t until a few days later that he found out his friends, Partida and Derek, were found dead the day after that party.
“It's kind of like a nightmare that keeps on repeating itself over and over. It was a big shocker to me,” said Perez.
Perez has known Marquez since the two were younger, and he says they reconnected recently and had become friends. Perez said he knew Marquez was making some bad choices, but hoped he could turn his life around.
“Like I would take him to the gym and we will talk about deep stuff. Sometimes about the Bible or sometimes just talk to him about what he wants to do in life to change for his kid,” said Perez.
In the days following the murder, Perez said he’d suspected Marquez may have had something to do with the deaths of Partida and Greer, and even questioned his friend himself.
“I thought there's probably something connected with him because he was the last person to see them. So right away I went to him and started asking him questions,” said Perez.
Perez said Marquez denied any involvement.
At one point, Perez was also questioned by investigators. That encounter can be found in the arrest affidavits released on Thursday.
The document states that Perez was brought in for an interview, and that he had allowed detectives to use his cell phone to communicate with Marquez.“They wanted to meet up [with him] or something like that... But I was in the room and everything when they were messaging back-and-forth,” said Perez.
A few days later, Marquez was arrested, and charged with first degree murder for the deaths of Partida and Greer.
Even in the aftermath, Perez says he is sad and angry with Marquez, but also feels some gratitude towards his friend.
“In a way I feel like even though Tavo (Gustavo) probably participated and had a big role in it, I feel like him sending that message [to me that night] right when I was near the party, I feel like he saved my life,” said Perez.
Perez says he fears if he would have been at the party, he could have been a victim as well.
“I think if I would've been there, I probably would've been dead too. I feel like I shouldn't even be here sometimes,” said Perez.
Now, Perez says he is waiting to see how everything plays out in the court system.
“In a way, I feel like everyone loses at the end of it. The families are still sad about it, and everybody is locked up and stuff. It’s hard,” said Perez.