The incident occurred at Albatros Mexican Restaurant in the 23000 block of Rockfield Boulevard near Lake Forest Drive at shortly after 2 a.m. Saturday.
Witnesses described the scene as an all-out brawl. They said it started when friends of the victims got into a dispute with two women while waiting in line for food.
Witness Moises Acosta described the victims as intoxicated, even spitting at the women in line. Acosta also said patrons in the restaurant grew angry at how they were treating the women.
"I, myself was going to stand up for the girls too, because this guy was just acting like a complete imbecile," said another witness Keaton English.
The fight escalated as more and more people got involved trying to defend the women.
"They picked up chairs. They were throwing tables, throwing cups everywhere," said another witness, Daniel Terrazas.
Deputies said the fight spilled out into the parking lot, where two people were stabbed. They were rushed to a hospital, where one victim, 26-year-old Elvis Kechechian of Mission Viejo, died from his stab wounds. The second victim, a man in his 20s, was hospitalized listed in critical condition.
"I saw two gentlemen. One laying on his back with a very severe stab wound. He really didn't look like he was going to make it. And another guy, sitting on the curb, holding his stomach. There was blood everywhere," described another witness Alex Lewandowski.
Another person who was also involved in the fight was severely beaten but not stabbed.
Kechechian was a personal trainer as well as a strength and conditioning coach for the boys hockey team at Santa Margarita Catholic High School.
Those who knew Kechechian said he was a good-hearted man.
"I was shocked, devastated," said Connor O'Brien, a member of the hockey team. "I never thought in a million years that I would not be able to see Elvis again. It's just a tragedy."
The suspect fled the scene. No suspect information was immediately available, but sheriff's deputies hoped that would change after interviewing witnesses.
"There's approximately 18 to 20 witnesses - a very popular restaurant at that time. So each of the witnesses have to be interviewed individually," said Jim Amormino with the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
Authorities are also looking into surveillance video, hoping to track down the suspects.
The video shows two women who may have witnessed the stabbing.
"We're asking the women in those photos to come forward," Amormino said. "We're also asking a group of people that left prior to deputies' arrival to contact the Orange County Sheriff's Department."
Sheriff's officials said this is the first homicide in two years in Lake Forest, and scenes such as this are very unusual in the area.
"Lake Forest is an extremely safe city. It's very rare for anything like this to happen. In fact, it's named one of the safest cities in America," said Amormino.
If you have any information regarding this incident, you're urged to contact the Orange County Sheriff's Department at (866) TIP-OCSD or (866) 847-6273.