Julian Pena was remembered Thursday as a family man who doted on his son and hoped to become a biomedical engineer.
"He was the perfect father," said Natali Altenburg, 26, his girlfriend and the mother of their 2-year-old son, Jaeden.
Pena, 29, of Holbrook, was killed late Tuesday outside Momo's, a sports bar and grill in Holbrook, police said, and two men have been arrested in connection with his death.
The circumstances of Pena's fatal stabbing were still unclear Thursday and police could not be reached to provide details. But Pena was a regular at Momo's, Altenburg said, and had gone there Tuesday night with a co-worker. Pena, who had taken classes at Stony Brook University, loved the chicken wings and was known to do homework there, she said.
Robert B. Gregory, 19, of Farmingville, has been charged with second-degree murder, and Reuben (aka Ruben) Rosario, 28, of Selden, was charged with second-degree gang assault, homicide detectives said.
A Suffolk County judge ordered Gregory held without bail Thursday. Rosario was being held at Suffolk County Jail on $250,000 cash or $100,000 bond.
The news of the arrests "made me feel so good," Altenburg said.
She said she first met Pena, a Navy veteran who was an electrician, at her friend's birthday party in March 2008. They re-connected six months later, bumping into one another at the South Shore Mall, and had been a couple ever since, most recently living together in Holbrook.
Pena was "totally focused on his son and . . . [girlfriend] -- you could tell he lived for his son," said Kerry Walters, vice president at Have a Heart Children's Cancer Society, a nonprofit in Huntington where Altenburg works part-time. Pena drove Altenburg to fundraising events and sometimes stepped in himself, she said. The society is raising funds to help Altenburg, Walters said.
"I'm trying really hard to be strong for my son," Altenburg said.
Visiting for Pena will be Sunday at the Michael J. Grant Funeral Home, 571 Suffolk Ave., Brentwood, from 2 to 4 p.m., with a service to be held during the 7-to-9 p.m. wake hours. Burial will be Monday at 11 a.m. at Calverton National Cemetery.