Family members said Jaime Alberto Villacorta had been struggling with dealing with a gang in the area, but his calls for help went unanswered.
Authorities responded to the 1400 block of South Townsend Street just before midnight and found Villacorta shot to death.
"He was a really good person," Villacorta's mother, Maria Medrano, through an interpreter. She came to see where her son was shot and killed. "They didn't need to shoot him and take his life away from him like they did," she said.
Villacorta had been working as a security guard for several years, according to his stepfather, Rodolfo Miranda. He had been working at the Santa Ana complex for the last six months.
"He would mess around with the little kids," said Villacorta's friend, Oscar Reynosa. "Buy them candy. He would be posting in the truck chilling, talking to everybody. He would get along with everybody, he was probably the best security guard here."
Miranda said Villacorta didn't carry a gun and recently complained about not feeling safe there. He even asked his bosses for increased security measures.
On Wednesday, Villacorta ran inside a laundry room at the apartment complex and hid behind a washing machine to avoid apparent gang gunfire, Miranda said.
Some people who visited the scene said they've actually moved away from the area because there's been an increase of gang activity.
"You hear gunshots every night," said Reynosa. "But this one was closer. But knowing that it was one of my homies, one of my friends, I couldn't believe it was him."Villacorta leaves behind two children, a 7-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son. A memorial was held at the scene.
"He was in fear of his job because he knew something was going to happen because of the dangerous neighborhood that he worked in," said resident Keely Dircio. "To be able to prepare food for his mother and his children, he kept his job."
Police haven't released a description of the shooter.
"We don't know if this was a confrontation between him and something that was going on?" said Santa Ana Police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna. "Was this a confrontation between him and some groups of individuals?"
Villacorta's employer was contacted to see if there will be another security guard posted at the complex, but has not responded.
Anyone with information related to the case is urged to call Santa Ana police at (714) 245-8390.