Suicide suspected in Castro stabbing death
by Seth Hemmelgarn
San Francisco police say a man who was found dead with a stab wound in the Castro likely killed himself.
The 63-year-old man, whose name wasn't immediately released, was lying on the Diamond Street side of the U.S. Post Office at 4304 18th Street Monday, December 12, according to Captain Daniel Perea, who oversees the Mission district police station.
After the Bay Area Reporter’s deadline Wednesday, the medical examiner's office identified the man as Peter Robinson, of Madison, Wisconsin. Christopher Wirowek, the agency's deputy director, confirmed that the manner of death was determined to be suicide, and the cause of death was a stab wound to the chest.
Perea said that a note at the scene and other evidence "indicates that it was a suicide." The medical examiner's office is investigating the incident, which happened at about 2:30 p.m., as a "suspicious death," he said. The medical examiner's office hadn't provided information on the case as of Tuesday afternoon, December 13.
"We did talk to some witnesses," Perea said. "There were no reports of a fight. There were no reports of someone screaming or yelling for help" or other indications that the man had been attacked.
A small shoulder bag with the note, the man's passport, and other items was also at the scene, so it didn't appear he'd been robbed, police said.
Perea said he didn't see any other injuries or anything to indicate the man had been using drugs. It may be several months before the medical examiner's office releases the toxicology report.
"It's a sad incident, but it was one individual who was despondent acting on his own," Perea said. "We're not looking for any suspect, and there is no threat to the neighborhood."
Perea didn't recall the note "being addressed to anyone in particular," but it was double-sided and included "information about why he chose" to kill himself, names of next of kin, and the date it was written.
He said officials believe the man lived in San Francisco. He didn't know whether he'd been homeless.
Perea said he's in the Castro "frequently," and the man was "no one I've ever seen."
"He wasn't somebody that I've come into contact with for breaking the law" or for other reasons, he said.
He didn't know why the man would choose the post office for his death, but he said he wasn't an employee.
Andrea Aiello, executive director of the Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District, said that Perea told her that the man had "stabbed himself and pressed his body into the building" so that the knife would go in "deep."
Perea declined to confirm whether the man had pushed himself into the knife. He couldn't comment on whether the knife had been protruding from the man's chest, as some media reports have said.
Kevin Chen, who owns Hansen's Laundry and Dry Cleaning, which is across Diamond Street from the post office, said that he didn't realize anything had happened Monday until several police cars arrived at the scene.
Chen said he was only able to see the man's legs as police surrounded the body.
No one at the post office answered the phone Tuesday.