SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Police in San Francisco’s Mission District were stepping up patrols at Dolores Park Friday following the Thursday shooting that left three people wounded.
The shooting happened in broad daylight Thursday afternoon near a walkway at the edge of the park. Authorities are still searching for at least five suspects who remain at large.
Authorities say one victim, a 37-year-old man who was shot in the face, remained in critical condition Friday morning and another, a 69-year-old man, was treated and released.
The third hospitalized victim is a 16-year-old boy and no details were being released about his condition.
Witnesses said they saw the suspects take off in a car after the shooting.
A man who witnessed a shooting said it happened after about half a dozen men — who had their faces covered with bandannas except for their eyes — started shouting and acting threateningly on a park’s bridge.
The man, who identified himself to the San Francisco Chronicle only as Hatter, said several park regulars confronted the group and that he approached them to make sure everything was OK.
As he got closer, someone shouted that the group had guns. A second later, one of the men pulled out a handgun and fired at least six rounds, Hatter said.
Two people directly behind him were struck by bullets. He escaped with only an injury, possibly from “shrapnel,” to his leg, he said.
“I normally can handle (myself) well in these situations, but I was pretty sure I had just lost my life,” Hatter said.
Police found five shell casings, a bullet hole in the door of a parked vehicle and five bullet holes on a nearby apartment building.
Police spokesman Robert Rueca said Friday that investigators were looking into whether Thursday’s shooting was gang-related, among other possible motives. Police believe the shooting was targeted.
Prior to the triple shooting, SFPD only patrolled Dolores Park around the clock during the weekend, but that changed on Friday.
From now on, two patrol units will be stationed at the park 24/7.
“I had my first birthday parties here at Dolores,” said San Francisco native Carl Siegel. “I remember there was drug busts back then and a lot more drug activity back then. So taking my kid here feels safer than when I was taken here.”
Siegel and his mother Beth Koren have lived in the area for decades and take their dogs for walks in Dolores at least once a day. They say they aren’t letting Thursdays shooting stop them from doing what they love.
“It would change my life quite a bit to not come here again and I don’t want to be afraid of anything,” said Siegel.
His mother agreed.
“I think it was a very unusual incident and it’s over, so we’re fine. I’m not afraid to be here this morning,” explained Koren.
KPIX 5 also spoke with Valerie Good, a tourist from Michigan. She said felt safe too, taking note of the police presence.
“I honestly thought they were here for the homeless population,” said Good. “I thought, ‘Oh, they’re just keeping an eye on everything.’ So I’m not too concerned. I think it’s a nice area.”
SFPD believe the shooting was a targeted incident. There was no word whether the permanent patrol at the park would be a permanent change.