SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – The 32-year-old man, killed in an officer-involved shooting outside the Mission District police station on Sunday, had previously sent text messages to a police officer in Connecticut, asking what would happen if he pointed a fake gun at a cop.
San Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr, who held a town hall meeting Tuesday night to discuss the shooting, said they received word from the Norwalk Police Department in Connecticut that an officer had received text messages on March 27, 2014 from Matthew Hoffman, then a resident of Danbury, Connecticut. Norwalk police said the officer believed Hoffman was unstable and off his medications.
The text messages sent to the officer asked what would happen if a person were to point a fake gun at a cop from 6 feet away and what would happen if someone told a cop he was going to shoot the cop after a count of three. Norwalk police said a firearms check at the time showed Hoffman had a valid pistol permit as well as a Ruger pistol registered to him.
Suhr said along with the text messages, the 32-year-old also left behind several suicide notes.
“I think he actually tried to, it sounds kind of weird, but be thoughtful that he did it at a police station, so that he could control that scene as well,” Suhr said.
In one of the suicide letters, Hoffman addressed it to officers and said “You did nothing wrong. You ended the life of a man who was too much of a coward to do it himself.”
Hoffman was fatally shot by police after he went to a restricted parking lot at the Mission Station. Armed with an airsoft pistol, Hoffman allegedly pointed the weapon at officers. Two police sergeants fired 10 shots, with three striking Hoffman, which was concerning to some residents who attended the meeting.
“Grateful that no one else was hit, especially if only three of the bullets hit the unfortunate victim,” said one resident. “What safeguards were in place for someone just happening to walk by at 5 in the evening on Valencia Street?” While no one else was injured, Chief Suhr did not disclose where the seven stray bullets were located.
Police said the airsoft pistol Hoffman was carrying did not have an orange safety tip indicating it was not a real gun.
The two sergeants involved in the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave.
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