OAKLAND — Federal prosecutors say they have identified the man who was driving a Cadillac in what became an iconic photograph of a Bay Area sideshow, depicting a young woman hanging out the window of the moving vehicle with a mini AK-47 in her hands.
In a recent court filing, prosecutors identified the driver as 26-year-old Christopher Gonzalez-Nunez, a Hayward man with alleged ties to a Norteño subset, and said the woman in the picture was Gonzalez-Nunez’s “significant other,” who is not mentioned by name. The Bay Area mystery was solved thanks to Instagram users, according to authorities.
“Not only does the car match a vehicle that Gonzalez-Nunez owned at the time, but Instagram users ‘tagged’ him in photos from the incident and mentioned him by name,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Leif Dautch wrote in a legal motion. “Perhaps most tellingly, Gonzalez-Nunez posted a photo on his Instagram account of what appears to be him wearing a t-shirt depicting his significant other leaning out of his car holding the gun.”
The photograph surfaced on social media after the July 2021 sideshow, and quickly went viral as either a symbol of Bay Area lawlessness or the independent spirit associated with sideshow culture, depending on the viewer’s perspective. Many obnoxious online users asked if the woman was single, while others used it to argue for or against gun control.
Gonzalez-Nunez’s case is separate from the photo.
On Aug. 11 he was charged with being a felon in possession of three guns and ammunition — including two unserialized pistols — that were allegedly found during a raid of his Hayward home. The FBI searched Gonzalez-Nunez’s home on Woodroe Avenue back in June, and the guns were found in a backpack that had been hastily tossed over his backyard fence, authorities said. A DNA test later linked them to Gonzalez-Nunez, according to authorities.
In a motion to keep Gonzalez-Nunez jailed while the charges are pending, the prosecutor wrote that Gonzalez-Nunez is a member of the San Francisco Mission District Norteños who has ties to the gang’s most infamous convicted killer in recent memory, a onetime justice reform activist named Fernando Madrigal. Back in February, Madrigal and two co-defendants pleaded guilty to various roles in gang-related murders around the Bay Area.
According to the plea agreement, Madrigal murdered 15-year-old Day’von Hann in San Francisco on July 7, 2019, then appeared at an anti-violence rally with Hann’s mother just 11 days later. Prosecutors now say that Gonzalez-Nunez was “hanging out with Madrigal immediately before—and possible during—the murder” of Hann. The two were seen together in a video posted to Snapchat earlier that night, and talked on an Instagram group chat around the same time as well, prosecutors allege.
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“After the shooting, Gonzalez-Nunez identified specific messages in the group chat and told another participant to ‘delete this’ and ‘this too,’” Dautch wrote.
A judge has not yet ruled on the motion to keep Gonzalez-Nunez jailed, but is scheduled to do so at a Sept. 8 court hearing, records show. He remains in federal custody at Santa Rita Jail in the meantime. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in federal prison.
Meanwhile, Madrigal and his two co-defendants, Alvaro “G-Boy” Reina-Cordero and Oscar “Cutty” Guadron-Diaz, are still awaiting sentencing. Recently, a federal judge denied a defense request to allow Guadron-Diaz to briefly leave jail for his father’s funeral. U.S. District Judge William Orrick extended his condolences to Guadron-Diaz but sided with prosecutors, who argued that Guadron-Diaz posed a danger to society and added a search of his family’s home after Hann’s murder yielded a “machinegun, ammunition, drugs, and gang indicia all on full display in the house.”