Updated: SF Muni shooting leaves one passenger dead, another injured

  • by BAR news staff
  • Wednesday June 22, 2022
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A San Francisco police officer directs a van from the Office of the Chief medical Examiner at the scene of a shooting death in San Francisco's Castro district Wednesday morning. Photo: Eric Burkett
A San Francisco police officer directs a van from the Office of the Chief medical Examiner at the scene of a shooting death in San Francisco's Castro district Wednesday morning. Photo: Eric Burkett

San Francisco Police Department has released photos of a person of interest in Wednesday's shooting in a subway car at the Forest Hill Muni station.

A shooting in a subway car at the San Francisco Muni Forest Hill station June 22 has left one person dead and a bystander injured. By the time police were able to respond to the incident at Forest Hill, the train had left the station and made its way to Castro Station where the suspect escaped. No arrests were made and the suspect is, as of press time, still at large.

According to a release from the San Francisco Police Department, one victim, a 70-year-old man, was taken to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center with non-life threatening injuries while the other, a 27-year-old man whom police did not identify, succumbed to their injuries at the scene despite assistance from SFPD and the San Francisco Fire Department.

Investigators have obtained video of the incident from the subway car's surveillance cameras, according to a release from SFPD, and have released still images of the person of interest from the video.

Police have released no information about the person of interest at this time although, in a statement issued a few hours after the shooting, police described the person "as an unknown race male wearing dark clothing and a hooded jacket."

San Francisco police released this image of who they described as a person of interest in the Muni shooting. Photo: Courtesy SFPD  

Late Wednesday night, police released a still image of what they said was a person of interest.

Despite occurring around 10 a.m., a busy time for SF Muni typically, police are not sure how crowded the subway car was at the time of the shooting, said Winters.

"We do know that when the train arrived here, most people from the train exited the train quickly," Winters told reporters outside the Castro Street Muni station. Despite that, police did manage to speak with several possible witnesses.

Winters said the shooting appeared to be an isolated incident. Moments earlier, District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, who came on the scene shortly after police arrived, said the shooting appeared to stem from "a fight among people who may have known each other."

Mandelman, a gay man who represents the Castro, added, "It was not, you know, someone who got on the train and started shooting."

The shooting, Winters emphasized, "does not appear to have any connection to Pride events or does not appear to target the LGBTQ community.'

"I really want to make sure that our community members and visitors who are in town for Pride week understand that," Winters added.

Police, however, don't really know for sure what happened on the train.

"We are working to gather information, which will include surveillance footage, and [police] have footage from the Muni train," Winters said. There is no information about the suspect at this time although, in a release issued a few hours later, police described the suspect "as an unknown race male wearing dark clothing and a hooded jacket."

The Castro Station at Market and Castro Streets was closed until just before 2 p.m. Police had warned people to avoid the area, while the city's transit agency provided bus service between the Castro and Forest Hill stations.

The incident has rattled nerves in the city ahead of this weekend's Pride activities. The shooting also occurred on day seven of Frameline46, San Francisco's international LGBTQ film festival that presents most of its programming at the Castro Theatre.

District 7 Supervisor Myrna Melgar was one of the first public officials to disclose the shooting in a tweet shortly after the incident occurred.

"Terrible news this morning: on the MUNI between Forest Hill and Castro station, we have been informed by SFPD that a shooting occurred inside the train," she tweeted.

She added that, "two victims were shot. One is deceased and the second victim in hospital. Perpetrator ran out of the train at Castro station."

Mandelman, whose office has been coordinating with the police about the usual heightened security measures in the Castro during Pride weekend, had tweeted that police were "on scene and working to locate the suspect."

Gay state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) issued a statement.

"The shooting that occurred on the Muni subway near Castro Station — a subway ride I've taken thousands of times over the past 25 years — is a horrific tragedy," Wiener stated shortly after the shooting. "It's another reminder that as long as our country is awash in guns, shootings can happen anywhere, anytime. My heart goes out to the victims, and I know SFPD is working hard to apprehend the shooter. We must recommit as a nation to end the easy availability of guns. California has the strongest gun safety laws in the nation, and we're continuing to strengthen them. But we need strong action from Congress to truly improve the safety of our community."

Despite the shooting not appearing to be an attack aimed at the LGBTQ community, Mandelman urged people to be on alert.

"It's Pride week and people are already on edge," said the supervisor. "There have been horrible instances around the country and even in the Bay Area, so people are nervous and I'm sure this doesn't help."

If people see something strange, he said, they should call 911.

That said, Mandelman reminded residents that San Francisco homicide rates are low for an American city but he is worried, he said, about staffing issues at SFPD.

The last time such an incident occurred on an SF Muni train was in 2013, when Nikhom Thephakaysone was accused of fatally shooting 20-year-old Justin Valdez in what prosecutors said was a random killing. Press accounts from the time indicated that he pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Anyone with information regarding this person, or with information related to this investigation, is asked to call the SFPD Tip Line at 1-415-575-4444 or Text a Tip to TIP411 and begin the text message with SFPD. People who submit tips may remain anonymous.

Updated, 6/22/22: This article has been updated.

Updated, 6/23/22: This article has been updated with a photo of a person police are calling a person of interest in the shooting.

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