The San Francisco Police Department is investigating the beating death of a well-known North Beach man as a homicide, they say today, taking the city to the highest number of homicides we've seen since 2012.

Hoodline reports that 74-year-old Stuart "Stu" Jackson, a well-known North Beach sketch artist and "regular at North Beach haunts like Caffe Trieste, Stella Pastry and Vesuvio," was taken off life support last Saturday after a December 5 beating near Market and Van Ness.

Jackson, who "often drew portraits of other patrons without their knowledge and then offered them for sale to the unwitting models, generally to their delight," was headed to a street fair at around 2 p.m. on Saturday, 12/5, when his brother tells Hoodline, “He was down near the corner of Van Ness and Market Street, and supposedly this perpetrator got up off of a bus stop bench and walked over and hit him in the side of the head."

Jackson "was hit so hard that it crushed his skull," and fell, hitting his head on the pavement.

Though Jackson was transported to San Francisco General Hospital, he was unable to recover from his injuries and was taken off "the heart and lung machine that was keeping him going" on December 12.

SFPD spokesperson Officer Albie Esparza confirms to SFist that Jackson's death is being investigated as a homicide. Hoodline also spoke with SFPD Homicide Sargeant Kyra Delaney, who said that “[The unprovoked attack is] very rare and troubling; it doesn’t make sense."

“This is not taken lightly at all by the police department. We’re doing everything we can to figure out who did this.”

As of publication time, no suspect information was available, nor have any arrests been made in the case.

According to Esparza, Jackson's death is San Francisco's 49th homicide for 2015, following the fatal stabbing of Jose Garcia Sanchez at Stanyan and Haight Streets at 2 a.m. Saturday. In comparison, San Francisco had 45 homicides for all of 2014, 48 in 2013, 68 in 2012, and 50 in 2011.

Previously: Early-Morning Fight On Haight Street Ends In SF's 48th Homicide of 2015