On July 31, 1892, Francisco Torres, a Mexican laborer of the Modjeska Ranch, had an argument with William McKelvey, the ranch’s foreman. McKelvey had deducted a weekly $2.50 poll tax from his wages. Torres did not understand the reason for the deduction and felt cheated. Torres confronted McKelvey which resulted in McKelvey’s murder.

McKelvey’s murder had residents upset because he was very well known and liked. Torres fled but was captured by the San Diego Sheriff, who turned him over to Sheriff Lacy in Santa Ana. Torres was incarcerated. In the early morning of August 2, 1892 a mob of men with covered faces dragged Torres from his jail cell while calling him racial epithets and carried him to a telephone pole at Fourth and Sycamore Streets in Santa Ana and hanged him.