One man was stabbed to death and two others injured during an altercation at the Almond Tree Restaurant in Atwater about 12:15 a.m. Friday, Atwater police reported.
The 23-year-old Atwater victim hadn't been identified by authorities late Friday.
Police said three men were stabbed during the confrontation, including a bouncer who was stabbed in the hand as he tried breaking up the fight. He was treated for minor injuries.
The other two victims were flown to Modesto area hospitals, where one died Friday afternoon, Lt. Sam Joseph said. The other hospitalized victim is in stable condition.
Officers were dispatched to a Chevron gas station parking lot in the 1400 block of Sycamore Avenue, where one of the victims had run to get help after the fight.
Joseph said several witnesses pointed to the two suspects, both Winton residents, who fled on foot.
California Highway Patrol and the Sheriff's Department officers assisted Atwater police in capturing the suspects, Cindy Maciel, 22, and Miguel Rivera, 27.
Both were placed under arrest and booked at the Merced County Jail on assault with a deadly weapon charges. The suspects are expected to face murder charges after the victim's death Friday, police said.
Joseph said it's unknown who stabbed the victims, and the knife has not been found. It's also unclear what caused the altercation at the restaurant.
Rivera is being held without bail because of a parole violation. Maciel's bail is set at $30,000. They remained in custody late Friday.
Reporter Ramona Giwargis can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or email@example.com.