Victim in South Tahoe fight dies; no arrests ever made


By Kathryn Reed

The man involved in a South Lake Tahoe bar fight in May has died and still there has never been a single arrest stemming from the now fatal incident.

“Zippy passed away last night. His gramma Rose, my wife Debbie and myself were with him,” Wayne Penaranda told Lake Tahoe News. He died Oct. 17, about four hours after the trach was removed.

Derek Penaranda, better known to his family and friends as Zippy, was in town to celebrate his 30th birthday.

Derek "Zippy" Penaranda and Katie Musselwhite had hoped to one day marry. Photo/Provided

That celebration took a tragic turn when a phone call came in the early hours of May 20 telling Debbie and Wayne Penaranda to get to Barton Memorial Hospital.

Penaranda didn’t leave Mo’s Place on his own. From Barton he went to Renown Medical Center in Reno. He then was moved to two specialty rehabilitation facilities in the Bay Area. But his insurance stopped covering him because he was not making progress, according to his dad.

Besides all the normal strife that comes with a loved one in such a serious medical state, Penaranda said it was hard on the family, who lives in Ripon in the Central family, to be more than 100 miles from Zippy. Eventually the younger Penaranda was at Rossmoor Care Facility in Walnut Creek – still 100 miles away.

On Aug. 20 he was “neurologically classified as permanently vegetative state,” Pernaranda said of his son.

Pernaranda said he spoke with El Dorado County Assistant District Attorney Joe Alexander on Sept. 28 “to cover some issues, including the possibility of this case turning into a homicide.”

South Lake Tahoe police when questioned Thursday morning about why no arrests have been made, issued a press that says, “The circumstances surrounding Penaranda’s death are still under investigation by the South Lake Tahoe Police Department. There is no information being released at this time concerning the possibility of criminal charges being filed, what those charges would be, or when they would be filed.”



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Comments (28)
  1. 4-mer-usmc says - Posted: October 18, 2012

    I can’t believe that five months have passed and this still remains under investigation. Maybe now that Mr. Penaranda is no longer in a “neurologically classified permanently vegetative state,” and has now died, the SLT Police will get off their butts and shift the investigation into a higher gear concerning charges being filed. This is a black eye to this community and makes me wonder just how much influence “Mo” has. From what I was told by an individual that was present in that establishment and witnessed this incident take place, it wasn’t a one-on-one fight with Mo and Penaranda, it was a free-for-all by Mo’s security personnel and close friends/patrons on a single individual.

    To Mr. Penaranda’s family and friends I extend my sincere sympathies.

  2. Bill Swim says - Posted: October 18, 2012

    Very sad, my condolences to the family. I belive those who are left behind and Zippy deserve justice.

  3. Mike says - Posted: October 18, 2012

    RIP, Zippy. It’s absolutely shocking that the SLT Police Department haven’t rounded up Mo and his “security” team and charged them with murder. Yes, Zippy acted (very) inappropriately that night, and certainly deserved to be thrown out (if not roughed up a bit), but no one deserves to die for having a night of drinking in Tahoe and getting a little out of hand.

    The SLT police have a video of the attack. I know this because my friend took it. To this day, after taking possession of the video on the night of the assault, they have NEVER called him to ask him what happened. The police in this town are an absolute joke. For the record, 4-5 “bouncers” that were hired by Mo pinned Zippy to the ground and beat the life out of him in front of a 100 people, long after he had been contained and was no longer a threat to anyone.

    I hope Mo and his “security” team are thrown in prison, and Zippy’s family takes Mo for every penny he’s worth. Not that money will bring Zippy back, but at least it will put these creeps that give South Lake Tahoe a bad name out of business forever.

  4. Americans Betrayed says - Posted: October 18, 2012

    Where is the followup from the press? Has anyone ever interviewed Mo? ANy of the others?

    I am writing to Tom McClintock and Ted Gains and asking for an investigation on this. If it is true that the cops have video of the assalt and are sitting on it then they too should join Mo and his gang in prison.

    I met Mo once, him and his dad. I thought both were real… holes. Like a lot of the business people in South Lake Tahoe.

    It is just a shame what has happened to this town and it is going to get worse.

  5. Chief Slowroller says - Posted: October 18, 2012

    you blogers seem to have a lot of hatered
    for Mo and the security folks

    you could get drunk and stupid at any bar here in town and the same damn thing could happen to you

    any bar in Carson City

    any Bar in Reno

    any bar in Rippon

    if you don’t know how to act then you shouldn’t go out

    but I am sorry that it had to happen to that guy

  6. Americans Betrayed says - Posted: October 18, 2012


    are you on drugs?


    SIC MIND – up to now I just thought you were stupid.

    What a town of clowns

  7. earl zitts says - Posted: October 19, 2012

    This is not the first time or will it be the last time demon rum has caused misery and dispair. Liquid courage has killed or caused the death or injury of tens of thousands of people. Sadness for all concerned.

  8. Mike says - Posted: October 19, 2012

    Chief, you’re right. I do hate Mo and his security team. What can I say?… I’m just not that big a fan of murderers. I hate all of the yahoos and criminals running amateur-hour operations that keep our community down and give South Lake a bad name.

    Apparently our City cares more about collecting TOT fees from tourists than it does protecting their lives and ensuring justice. What a sad state of affairs.

  9. X LOCAL says - Posted: October 19, 2012

    I’m sure that our New City Manager will get the police dept. on this right away, this kind of advertisement is not good for our community.

  10. hmmm... says - Posted: October 19, 2012

    god bless his soul. I don’t know the circumstamces, i don’t really like bars because people get drunk and act like a-holes-not just locals but ‘visitors’ to this town which has a tendency through it’s marketing(check out the ‘tahoe south’ website) to solicit idiotic behaviors. I don’t know Mo, I don’t know his security goons, I don’t know the local clientele of the establishment. But…the guys was 86’d…he started a fight…he (allegedly)knocked the owner of the bar unconscious…his nickname was ‘Zippy’.

  11. 4-mer-usmc says - Posted: October 19, 2012


    In my long life I’ve been drunk and stupid in numerous bars in numerous countries and have had more than my fair share of brawls. Not once though was I beaten unconscious and certainly not even once was I beaten like that by the so called “staff” at any establishment, in Country or out of Country. Only a coward continues to beat on someone once they’re on the ground and unable to defend themselves. After someone’s on the ground the fight is over, and when numerous people beat and kick a person after they’re down that’s nothing more than a feeding frenzy. If you’re a friend of Mo’s just say so, but don’t make excuses for him and his staff.

    Mo and his so-called “security staff” need to be held accountable. This is SLT and not east LA.

  12. K says - Posted: October 19, 2012

    I think it’s time to re-name Mo’s Place to Zippy’s Place. South Lake Tahoe PD must know that Zippy has many family and friends (including me) who loved him and we won’t back down until justice prevails.

    “It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people’s minds.” – Samuel Adams

  13. Debbie Swint says - Posted: October 19, 2012

    Is there anyone in SLT offened by this lack of justice? How is it possible to have a video of this murder and still have no arrest?
    At the very least Mo aand staff {what a joke} need to be held accountable for the pain THEY caused, for the DEATH they are RESPONSIBLE for and for the suffering inflicted upon family, friends and the entire commutity of Ripon.
    Mo’s Place cost Zippy his life.
    Could be yours next time.

  14. 4-mer-usmc says - Posted: October 19, 2012

    Dear Ms. Swint:

    I live in SLT and I am offended by this lack of justice and appalled that horrendous incident ever occurred in my community. This matter is just plain wrong on a lot of levels and I believe that the majority of SLT residents likely think that also. What happened to Mr. Penaranda is the absolute worst representation of our community and does not typify the majority of really good and decent individuals who live here.

    My condolences to family, friends and the entire community of Ripon.

  15. Old Long Skiis says - Posted: October 19, 2012

    My condolences to the Penaranda family.
    This did not have to happen! What does have to happen is charges brought against those reponsible for ” Zippys” death.
    Many years ago I was sort of a part time bouncer at a small bar here on So. Shore. It was the Bitter Creek , it was small, brand new and mostly drew a mellow crowd of Heavenly employees. The place had just opened and was owned by a guy named Steve. I never hit anyone, always just talked the rare rowdy patron into leaving. Call a cab and off he went.
    This whole horrible event could have been avoided with a little common sense. Beating people up is never the answer.
    R.I.P. Zippy. Old Long Skiis

  16. Caring says - Posted: October 19, 2012

    What happened to man-on-man? If you can’t handle your own fight, you should get the hell out of it (if possible). Anyone deciding to fight on someone else’s behalf is starting their own fight, period. There is nothing noble about it. Kicking someone while they are out or down is simply sad and disgusting. My condolences to Zippy’s family. I wish them much luck in bring these murderers to justice!

  17. 4-mer-usmc says - Posted: October 19, 2012


    I’m with you on this and when people say things like “this happened because booze was involved” it leads me to ask ‘Were Mo and his bouncers drunk?’ I’ve heard that Mr. Penaranda had too much to drink that evening but one would think that the establishment owner and his staff would be sober when at work so they can adequately manage and operate a business and appropriately deal with a customer who may have imbibed too much.

  18. Robert says - Posted: October 19, 2012

    It sounds to me like MO & Co.were the ones who sold him the booze!

  19. Dogula says - Posted: October 19, 2012

    Robert. This whole episode is tragic, and I hope law enforcement gets to the bottom of it SOON. But the only person responsible for overindulging in alcohol is the person who drinks it.
    Personal responsibility needs to make a comeback.

  20. 4-mer-usmc says - Posted: October 19, 2012


    No matter how much someone over indulges in alcohol there is no excuse for the staff at an establishment to beat someone into an unconscious state that ultimately leads to their death. If this had happened at a casino (nowadays) the security personnel would have escorted this person off the premises and if that person resisted they would be handcuffed and restrained with NO punches thrown, and if necessary the Police would be summoned. I don’t think that Mo’s “security personnel” were trained in anything more than being thugs, and I think that’s probably what Mo wanted in his staff.

    This should be an eye opener for all other local bars to hire trained security personnel who exercise proper security practices. If this circumstance had been perpetrated by a police officer EVERYONE would be screaming for their head. Does Rodney King ring a bell?

  21. Dogula says - Posted: October 19, 2012

    I agree, 4-mer. I was simply questioning Robert’s placing the blame for “over-serving” Zippy. We (as usual) don’t have all the facts. But blaming the bar for Zippy getting drunk is wrong too. That’s why minors aren’t allowed to drink. Supposedly adults are responsible for their choices.

  22. Biggerpicture says - Posted: October 19, 2012

    It is illegal in most states (and definitely CA) to over-serve a person, and most bars require any employee serving alcohol to go through some sort of alcohol awareness training. And legally, establishments and those employees that do over-serve can be held responsible for consequences from over-serving that patron.

  23. Checkdown says - Posted: October 19, 2012

    I think all of you are jumping WAY out on a limb here, especially 4-mer. If we stop and THINK, we’d probably realize there is more to the story than “I heard it from my buddy that…” kind of info. I’ve been to enough bars and heard friends “report” what happened later to people who weren’t there. Never seems to really fit with what really happened. Much cooler to have a good story to tell.

    4-mer: Of all people you should know this. As one 4-mer to another, you know the legs stories get in the military.

    If we stop and THINK more, we’d realize there’s a bigger picture than we can see here. Perhaps they actually thought this out? Perhaps they have a charging strategy?

    I know it’s much sexier to think in conspiracies and insider deals, especially when it comes to cops, than deal with the bland truth. But it’s more likely that the bland is the way it really is.

  24. Caring^Compassion says - Posted: October 19, 2012

    I wish compassion for all persons involved. Let us learn something solid from this experience as a community. “Please help prevent situations like this”. Much love in healing to all..!

  25. Winds of Change says - Posted: October 19, 2012

    Correct your sails..if needed.

  26. Mike says - Posted: October 20, 2012

    Checkdown, what a BRILLIANT point! This is all part of an amazing strategy by the genius detectives in our town. Let’s walk through it… A man is murdered by a pack of Mo’s security goons in front of a crowd of 100 (Mo’s Place was having a concert that night and was SLAMMED). At least one person videotapes the entire incident. Yet the police and “detectives” wait 8 months before they bother to interview any of the dozens of witnesses. In that time, people’s memories fade or become less reliable, others move away, tourists that saw it become harder to track down, etc., etc.

    Thank you for pointing out the police’s brilliance for us all. I’m only an attorney, so what do I know?

    For the record, I spoke with 3 friends that witnessed this “event” that night, including the one that videotaped it. Police have still not contacted any of them. Nothing to see here, folks!

  27. 4-mer-usmc says - Posted: October 20, 2012


    I would hope that the Police have a charging strategy. I agree that stories can have legs, but the fact of the matter is this man is now dead and it is highly unlikely in this circumstance that he slipped into a “neurologically classified as permanently vegetative state” without the assistance of some other people. This man needed resuscitation by paramedics at the scene, never to regain consciousness, and later died and that doesn’t happen from just being restrained. I can’t imagine that this one single individual could not have been restrained by Mo’s “security staff” without their use of excessive force which ultimately led to deadly force.

    In all the bar fights in which I participated or witnessed in my long life, both Stateside and abroad, while in the military and as a civilian, I’ve never once seen anyone beaten into a vegetative state or beaten to death.

    I agree that there is more to this story than will likely become public but the autopsy should provide pertinent details as to the cause of death and I would anticipate that when that report is released Lake Tahoe News will publish what is made public.

  28. Americans Betrayed says - Posted: October 20, 2012

    Time for SLT to start to fight back against your corrupt city.

    If people want to get this kicked into high gear than why not contact your elected officials and ask what they are doing to investigate the police depatnemt?

    Congressman Tom McClintock” <

    Ted Gains