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Police Beat: Guns Figure in Three Robberies
By Officer Lois Perillo
After experiencing no robberies during May and June and only one in July, Noe Valley reported two robberies in the first half of August, one of which may be part of a series of five armed robberies committed citywide.
In the single July robbery, which occurred on Monday, July 31, at 9:45 p.m., a 21-year-old man was walking on the 1100 block of Dolores Street when a man who appeared to be about 25 ran up behind him, pressed a blunt instrument into his back, and demanded his wallet. Believing the instrument to be a gun, the younger man gave his wallet to the robber, who then crossed Dolores to the west side and ran northbound toward 24th Street.
In the first robbery in August, the one possibly linked to a citywide crime spree, two 24-year-old women were targeted by two men in their 20s on Saturday, Aug. 12, at 10:30 p.m. As the women walked west on 23rd Street near Chattanooga Street, the two men, one holding a handgun, approached on foot and demanded their bags. When one of the women screamed, the man with the gun struck her in the face and grabbed her bag. Meanwhile, the second woman handed over her bag to the second suspect. Both men then ran to a waiting car, which drove away south on Chattanooga Street.
Officer Martin Loo responded to the scene, but did not locate the suspects. San Francisco Fire Department paramedics evaluated the injured woman for jaw pain, and released her to seek her own medical aid as needed.
In the second August robbery, a 50-year-old woman was walking on Douglass Street near 24th Street on Tuesday, Aug. 15, at 3:40 p.m., when she saw a burgundy 1980s compact car with three people inside. The woman continued north on Douglass to Alvarado Street, where she was stopped by one of the car's male occupants, who had approached her on foot. The man pointed a gun and demanded her purse. Then a second man demanded her ring. The woman complied, and the suspects ran to the waiting car, which fled west on Alvarado.
Unfortunately, the suspects in these cases may be still at large.
One Arrest in Seven Home Break-Ins
There were seven reported burglaries within my area of Noe Valley during July. Four were of apartments and three of houses, with one resulting in an arrest. Three occurred on Thursdays, three on Fridays, and one on a Wednesday. The majority happened during the workday.
Death on Church Street Accidental
In an incident which was initially treated as a homicide and later as an accident, a 27-year-old man fell to his death from a balcony on the 1200 block of Church Street on Thursday, July 20, at 6:15 a.m., after arguing with a 29-year-old man who lived in the building. The 29-year-old man was subsequently arrested for his friend's murder, but later released to the Alpine County Sheriff's office for an outstanding drug warrant.
Police were alerted to the incident when a jogger passed a man face-down on the sidewalk and bleeding from the head. Paramedics were called, but the man was pronounced dead at the scene.
Officers Jose Pubill, Susan Nangle, Victor Silveira, Ed Robles, John Tozzini, Dave Nakasu, and Mark Stull responded to calls to police. Neighbors directed them to the back yards on the 100 block of Jersey, where the 29-year-old man had fled and was hiding behind a bush. (See this month's Letters section.)
Police detained the man, who witnesses placed on the Church Street landing in a verbal argument with the victim, who was seen "arching his back over the railing" and then falling backwards, as he tried but failed to grab the railing to stop his fall. According to witnesses, the detained man yelled that an ambulance be called, and then ran from the building into the Jersey Street back yards.
Although he was booked on murder, the charge was dismissed and he was sent to Placerville on a $20,000 drug warrant.
The Ugly Face of Domestic Violence
A man who followed his estranged wife to her new home on the 100 block of Clipper Street on Monday, July 3, at 5:20 p.m., and then began to argue with her, was detained by local police after they learned the man had made a death threat and assault against his wife in South San Francisco. Officers Dave Dorontes, Jose Jiminez, and Anthony Holder responded to the incident, and transported both the woman and her husband to South City for an interview.
A 33-year-old man who threatened to kill his former girlfriend and who vandalized her halfway house on the 1300 block of Sanchez Street, was arrested on Monday, July 10, at 8:15 p.m. He was charged and immediately pled guilty to misdemeanor threats. After serving eight days in jail, the man was placed on three years' probation.
A 25-year-old man who assaulted his 26-year-old girlfriend on Tuesday, July 13, at 10:30 a.m., while on the 3800 block of 24th Street, was arrested by police and booked on felony battery.
Officers Barbara Pinelli, Mike Celis, and Paul Weggenmann, along with Sergeant Nick Rubino, responded to the 911 call. Officer Weggenmann followed the suspect into an alley north of 23rd Street near Church Street, where he and Officer Celis caught the man. The woman was apparently subject to such an intense battering by the suspect that she first told the reporting officers that she could not remember being hit by him. Luckily, several people working nearby witnessed the assault and provided statements, including, "That guy beat the shit out of that poor girl." A restraining order was issued, barring the suspect from contact with the woman. The suspect was booked at county jail, held for one day, then released with no further charges.
A 33-year-old woman was assaulted by her estranged husband after he visited with their children at her home on the 600 block of Elizabeth Street on Saturday, July 29, at 10:45 p.m. According to the woman and a witness, the man became angry at what he perceived as their late return to the house after dinner. He threw a cordless phone at her, missed, then he grabbed her, shook her, and pushed her backwards. He had already fled in his car by the time police arrived. Officers Nick Bettencourt and Tessa Escobar later secured an emergency protective order, temporarily barring the suspect from any contact with the woman and children.
Fat May Be Beautiful, But Graffiti Is Illegal
My partner, Officer Lorraine Lombardo, wrote up the following report of vandalism to the weight-loss center Lite for Life, located at 1300 Sanchez St.
On Saturday, Aug. 12, the owner of Lite for Life found "Fat Is Beautiful" painted in large letters on the sidewalk in front of her store and "Fat People Are Sexy" painted in a 10-foot-by-4-foot area on the side of her building. The owner photographed and then immediately cleaned the graffiti from her property.
Bats Belong at Ball Games
A 23-year-old woman used a baseball bat and strong words to threaten a 41-year-old man near his home on the 4100 block of Cesar Chavez Street on Tuesday, July 4, at 11 a.m.
Officers Ben Manning, Susan Nangle, and Ray Salvador arrested the woman after locating her at the nearby house of her father. She was booked at county jail and charged with one count of felony threats, which the district attorney rebooked as eight misdemeanor charges, including threats, battery, and possession of a deadly weapon. The suspect was released on bond the same day as her arrest, and a judge subsequently issued a stay-away order, barring her from contact with the man she had threatened.
Off-Duty Officer Fingers Bad Guy
When off-duty Officer James O'Malley saw a man scoping out cars along the 4200 block of 25th Street, he didn't keep going on his way. He stopped and watched, long and hard, until the man made himself a suspect by breaking into a parked car in clear view of the officer. But when Officer O'Malley identified himself, the man fled and the chase was on. Both men ran down the hill toward Noe. When the suspect reached the Noe and Jersey intersection, he threw himself to the ground, face down, and complied with the officer's commands.
Officers Patricia Brown and Susan Nangle then arrived, took custody of the suspect, and booked him at county jail. Since he was on parole, the district attorney declined to rebook him. Instead, he sent him to San Quentin, where he'll have a parole revocation hearing that may result in up to a year of state prison.
He Wasn't Doing His Laundry
A 27-year-old man was arrested after a witness reported his breaking into the washing-machine coin boxes at Laundry Mat at 1598 Castro St. on Wednesday, July 5, at 11:20 a.m.
Officers Leo Sevilla and Martin Loo responded to the call, took the subject into custody, and also found that he was under the influence of narcotics and in possession of possible methamphetamines. He was booked at county jail on three felonies and two misdemeanors. He was held for one day, then released on his own recognizance.
Where Are They Now?
Charges against two men involved in an April incident on the 1200 block of Castro, which began as a noise complaint of a loud party and ended with their arrests for obstructing an officer, were dropped. One man received a dismissal, and the other was exonerated.
The 24-year-old man convicted of burglary on the 1000 block of Dolores from an April 1999 incident pled guilty and was sentenced to two years in state prison.
Changing of the Guard
This month at Mission Station saw the promotion of Captain Gregory Suhr to commander in charge of the Special Operations Division, which includes Tactical, Canine, EOD (Bomb Squad), and Off-Road Motorcycles. Before leading Mission Station for five years, Commander Suhr served as one of our day watch lieutenants. His roots run deep in the Mission, and the 120 officers assigned here wish him well.
Meanwhile, we welcome Captain Ron Roth, who hails from the Bayview District and who shares a practice with the Philadelphia police commissioner: Our new captain has his own department mountain bike and is known to ride his district. So if you see a tall, slim man astride a blue Trek bicycle, wearing a navy blue police uniform with two gold bars (railroad tracks) on his collar, be sure to greet Captain Roth.
Women Celebrate 25 Years
You may not know that September marks the 25th anniversary of SFPD women on patrol. Women first entered the San Francisco Police Department in 1975, via two academy classes. Since then, we have risen to the rank of deputy chief. (For details, go to www.sfpoa.org and read Sally DeHaven's story, "Department Firsts Achieved by Female Officers.")
To celebrate, Mayor Willie Brown will present a proclamation honoring the contributions of SFPD women in a City Hall ceremony on Sept. 6 (4:30 p.m.). Next, we will take ourselves to Pac Bell Park on Sunday, Sept. 10, to cheer the Giants in a 1 p.m. game against the San Diego Padres. (Come join us.) As a grand finale, we will gather at the Westin St. Francis on Friday, Sept. 15, for an evening of dinner and dancing, with mistress of ceremonies Sharon Stone. Of course, the obligatory T-shirts with our 25th anniversary logo will be available to all those of you who know a cop!
As I enter my 17th year on patrol, I wish the best to my fellow officers and extend a heartfelt congratulations to all the women of the SFPD. Here's to our 25th year on patrol!
San Francisco Police Officer Lois Perillo covers her Noe Valley beat-- from Valencia to Grand View and 21st to Cesar Chavez -- on foot and on bicycle. If you would like to discuss a crime or safety problem, call her at 558-5404, the community policing line at Mission Station.