SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – A man who spends his days helping to stop violence in San Francisco has become the victim of violence.
Forty-two-year old Joe Taeotui is a worker with the city’s Street Violence Intervention Program.
Sources told KPIX that Taeotui was just finishing his lunch break at 12:15 p.m. Tuesday on Kiska Road in the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood when a group of people approached out of nowhere and someone opened fire.
Taeotui was shot several times in the head and face. An ambulance rushed him to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital where his family members held vigil Tuesday night.
“Right now, he’s up there, he’s fighting and he’s going to overcome it,” said his brother, Century Faatui.
Taeotui is a family man; married with a two-year-old child. Faatui said his younger brother goes by the nickname “Jungle” and has always had a way of charming people.
“The guy’s a big lovable dude,” said Faatui. “There’s cool, and there’s Cooley High. Jungle is in that Cooley High sector because he approaches all negative aspects of his job with a positive attitude.”
Taeotui’s job is to stop violent crime in one of the city’s toughest neighborhoods. If there’s been a shooting, for example, his team works to prevent the retaliation.
“He’ll do conflict mediation, de-escalation, crisis response,” said Arturo Carrillo, one of Taeotui’s colleagues at the city’s Street Violence Intervention Program. “It’s really sad. Really sad.”
“As a kid, being raised up in the Bayview, he knows the struggle and the struggle is real,” said Faatui. “Unless you come from that, you don’t know how to reach out to those kids, and he has that.”
So far, police are not saying whether they have a suspect or motive in the case.