Gay man recovering after Union Square-area shooting, robbery

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Tuesday April 25, 2023
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Patrick Perez, right, who was shot April 8 in the Union Square area, was visited in the hospital by his friend Jeffrey Huang. Photo: Courtesy Patrick Perez.
Patrick Perez, right, who was shot April 8 in the Union Square area, was visited in the hospital by his friend Jeffrey Huang. Photo: Courtesy Patrick Perez.

A gay man who was shot and robbed near his San Francisco apartment is out of the hospital and doing better.

"Right now, I'm doing OK," Patrick "Patch" Perez, 41, told the Bay Area Reporter. "I'm overwhelmed in a myriad of ways — in good ways and ways I have no control over. It's been amazing having so much support and love from everyone around and helping me with processing stuff."

The attack happened when Perez was walking early April 8 in the Union Square neighborhood.

"I was walking around town early morning, around 4:30. It doesn't bother me walking through San Francisco — I've never felt unsafe. The population that is homeless has never been a threat to me; it's never bothered me. I understand they are trying to survive," said Perez.

But that night, near the Hilton Union Square, Perez began to "hear some people talk loudly — they were aggressive and it felt like the conversation was louder than it needed to be."

"I'm walking up, past the parking garage, and I can still hear them and I had a feeling 'something's not right,'" Perez said. "I look over my left shoulder and there's two guys with hoodies. One is in all black, one had a beige hoodie with black pants. One says, 'What's up' and I thought, 'Oh God, I know something is wrong.' The pace gets faster, and that's when one of them ran around in front of me to punch me."

Perez said he figured he was being robbed.

"He demanded: 'Give me your wallet and keys,'" Perez said of one of the men. "I obliged."

The pair searched Perez's pockets and also took his cellphone. Nonetheless, however, "after that the guy with the gun went clockwise and I heard a pop. I didn't know he'd shot me. It's not like in the movies."

Perez realized he'd been shot when his left arm collapsed. Falling on the ground, he yelled "Help me — I've been shot. Call 911" four to five times, he said, before "shock hit in" and he began to "see starry skies."

"Me being stubborn I was like 'nope,'" Perez said. "I don't like losing control of my body. I felt the shock, got myself back up and went toward the building."

It was then that a good Samaritan — whose identity is a mystery — came upon Perez and called 911.

"Once I heard the sirens I felt better," Perez said. "At least I'm not alone."

Niccole Pacchetti of the San Francisco Police Department told the B.A.R. that police arrived first and called the ambulance to the scene.

"On 4/8/23 at approximately 4:56 a.m. officers responded to the 500 block of Mason St. regarding a shooting that just occurred," Pacchetti stated. "Officers arrived on scene and located an adult male suffering from injuries caused by a gunshot. Officers rendered aid and summoned medics to the scene who transported the victim to the hospital for life-threatening injuries."

Pacchetti added, "The preliminary investigation determined that the victim was approached by unknown males and robbed the victim at gunpoint. During the robbery the victim was shot and the suspects fled the scene."

Perez's gunshot wound was in his shoulder, and he'd lost five liters of blood, he said.

Because he'd sustained extensive nerve damage, a vein graft from his inner thigh was required.

"They took a foot of veins to help with the damage," he said.

It took almost a day for Perez's friends and family to find out what had happened because his phone was stolen, along with his wallet and keys.

One of those friends was Xander Salvador, who is also gay. Salvador lives in New York City, but when he heard what'd happened "there was no question" what he'd do next.

"I put my job on hold," Salvador told the B.A.R. "I got on a flight the day after to San Francisco because I couldn't rest until I saw he is OK and what I knew of his support system was limited. I just have trust issues and I didn't trust anyone to take care of him."

Salvador met Perez over 15 years ago when they went to Fullerton Junior College together and became roommates.

"We were roommates in the truest sense — two beds in one room," Perez said. "Two broke college students."

Salvador said, "I couldn't be OK until I knew he was well," and helped Perez deal with some of those things he had no control over, since his wallet and other items were taken.

Another friend who helped out is Jeffrey Huang, a gay man who set up a GoFundMe that raised $19,740 out of a $10,000 goal. (The San Francisco Standard also reported on the incident.)

"We started the GoFundMe a few days after Patrick's incident. The initial goal, $10,000, seemed like a high amount, but when we added how much it'd cost to replace the things stolen from him and insurance, transportation to-and-from, medical expenses, he doesn't feel safe at his current place, the deposit and moving expenses to a new place, it's impossible to quantify the impact a violent crime has on someone, so it was hard to quantify how much money to ask," Huang said.

"Within a day or two, we had surpassed the goal, which I think is a testament to the kind of relationships and friends Patrick has, and now we're basically at $20,000," Huang added. "... Even when people saw the amount was more than the initial goal they kept on donating, which is a testament to people's willingness to lend a hand."

Perez praised the SFPD's response, particularly that of Sergeant Kevin Cuadro. (The B.A.R. asked the SFPD if Cuadro could provide comment but received no response to the request.)

"Cuadro's team has been completely amazing," Perez said. "There's surveillance, because it's Union Square there's cameras everywhere, and they have pictures of the perps before and after."

Perez said the SFPD's response made a positive impression on his sister, Pam Lemos, who "has her own feelings about my coming here and wants me back home and doesn't have a lot of faith in the city," he said. She lives in San Bernardino County and declined to give her age.

"They were pleased with the support and about how SFPD dealt with it," Perez said.

Added his sister, "We're completely grateful for SFPD being on the scene to save his life. I hope and pray the DA won't do anything to reduce the charges."

The B.A.R. asked Randy Quezada, the communications director for San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins, if she would be doing anything to reduce the charges once an arrest is made. Quezada said the office doesn't have comment at this time on the case and cited the fact that no arrest has been made.

Perez's other sister, Michelle Perez, 51, of Jacksonville, Florida, works in law enforcement herself as a Clay County detention deputy.

"I was trying to get there [to San Francisco] as soon as possible because I know how sometimes they aren't able to get the leads they need to to make a proper arrest," Michelle Perez said. "We'd go to San Francisco, pass by it, we love San Francisco, it's a beautiful town and sometimes things like this, they happen everywhere now. It's sad, truly sad."

Michelle Perez is "thankful for the people who came to help my brother."

"They tried to kill my brother for nothing — nothing really at all — just a cellphone, a wallet, and keys," she said.

The SFPD has not yet made any arrests. Anyone with information is asked to contact the SFPD at 415-575-4444 or Text a Tip to TIP411 and begin the message with SFPD.

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