Mendoza's girlfriend told ABC7 News he was "a good man, and a good father."
"He didn't deserve what happened at all," Mendoza's friend Ruben Ramirez said.
Stunned and saddened, Ramirez came to see where his friend's car had come to rest. The red sedan was discovered still running on Denali Way early Thursday morning.
Family and friends say the car belonged to 27-year-old Eric Mendoza -- gunned down on his way home from work, just a couple blocks from his apartment he shared with his girlfriend and young child.
"He was always there to stop us from doing any wrong," Ramirez said. "He's was always, just a very respectful person is all I can say."
His girlfriend told ABC7 News that Mendoza was coming home from his new job as a janitor. He had started the job just three weeks ago to support her and their 4-month-old baby boy.
Mendoza would normally be home by about 3:30 a.m. When he didn't arrive, his girlfriend says she went outside and found him slumped over in his car.
"Someone took away a big part of our family; someone who had nothing to do with the problems going on around here at night," Mendoza's uncle Hector Hurtado said.
Neighbors say they heard multiple shots in the middle of the night -- not uncommon in the east San Jose neighborhood.
"This neighborhood, it doesn't surprise me here; there is a lot of gunplay here," neighbor Anthony Campos said.
Mendoza's family and friends say he had no gang ties and was devoted to his young family and his new job.
Police have made no arrests.