A quiet neighborhood in San Francisco was left shaken Friday night, after law enforcement agents swarmed the area in search of a man who allegedly shot a San Francisco Police Department officer in the head.
The incident began to unfold at 8:15 p.m. Friday, when police were called to the Lakeshore Plaza Shopping Center, a Sunset District strip mall located on Sloat Boulevard, a few short blocks from the Sigmund Stern Recreation Grove.
Police were told, the SFPD said in a written statement, that a man at the shopping center was "threatening people and causing a disturbance." Officers tracked the suspect to the first block of Everglade Drive, which is at the easternmost tip of the shopping center, but "When the officers made contact with the subject, he turned toward the officers and fired multiple shots, striking one of the officers in the head."
As the injured officer's partner rushed to render aid, the suspect fled toward Stern Grove, according to the SFPD. After a call for backup, police surrounded Stern Grove, and SFPD's tactical unit responded to the scene.
According to Hoodline, K9 units joined plainclothes and uniformed officers in the search for the suspect. Vehicular traffic on 19th was stopped as the manhunt continued, and the suspect's description was sent to every officer on the force.
A California Highway Patrol helicopter unit also joined the search, Hoodline reports. In their statement, the SFPD also thanks the "San Francisco Fire Department, the Department of Public Health, the Department of Emergency Management, the Recreation and Parks Department...the Daly City Police Department, the San Bruno Police Department and other allied agencies" for assistance in the incident.
At around 9:17 p.m., police say the suspect "emerged from the bushes located at 28th Avenue and Vicente Street," which is just north of Stern Grove. As the suspect "attempted to flee," several officers gave chase and shot at the suspect, striking him and causing him to fall to the ground.
According to the SFPD, even after he fell "he continued to hold the firearm near his chest while refusing multiple verbal commands to surrender," therefore "tactical officers deployed flash bang devices to distract the suspect and were able to take him into custody."
Both the suspect and the injured officer were transported to San Francisco General Hospital for treatment of their injuries, police say. Neither have been publicly identified as of publication time, but KTVU reports that the injured officer is named Kevin Downs, and "is new to the San Francisco police department." The injured officer "is currently in critical condition but is conscious and with his family members," according to the SFPD
The Chron reports that Mayor Ed Lee visited the officer late Friday, "and said [the officer] looked and sounded alert."
“I had a chance to thank him and meet his family. I’m very grateful,” Lee said.
This is the first San Francisco police officer shot in the line of duty in nearly ten years. On December 22, 2006, Officer Bryan Tuvera was shot and killed in a Sunset District garage, following the pursuit of convicted felon Marlon Ruff, who has escaped from a state prison fire camp. Ruff reportedly ambushed Tuvera and his partner in a garage on the 1600 block of 25th Avenue, which is between Lawton and Moraga Streets. Ruff reportedly shot and killed himself following Tuvera's slaying, officials said at the time. (Old timers might also recall this related incident, which some say led in part to then-Mayor Gavin Newsom's decision to eventually enter a rehab program for alcohol abuse.)
Returning to the present, in a statement sent early Saturday, SFPD Interim Chief Toney Chaplin said “Our thoughts are with our injured officer and his family...Our officers each day put their lives at risk to protect and serve San Francisco and we are grateful for the outpouring of support we saw Friday evening from San Franciscans who were concerned for the officer’s well-being."
"SFPD is proud of the officers involved in tonight's events. Knowing that a fellow member was down, these officers acted with a focus on containing the threat posed by the suspect and maintaining public safety."
According to SFPD spokesperson Officer Giselle Talkoff, Chaplin will be addressing the media at 11 a.m. Saturday from SF General. We'll update this report with any new information he provides at that time.
The SFPD SWAT team has arrived at a second scene at Vicente & 28th. This is an active police scene. pic.twitter.com/xs8RFree9G— Sergio Quintana (@svqjournalist) October 15, 2016
Armed SFPD canvassing the area of Everglade and Sloat for a suspect who shot an officer. pic.twitter.com/DXBSjVqpcV— Sergio Quintana (@svqjournalist) October 15, 2016
Update: Chaplin addressed the media Saturday but did not reveal either the name of the suspect or the injured officer. According to ABC 7, the officer remains in critical condition.
SFPD Chief Toney Chaplin says officer shot has a head wound, bullet entered his forehead missing a main artery by centimeter. Critical cond. pic.twitter.com/loJxZpKMFw— Cbarnard (@CornellBarnard) October 15, 2016
Update 2: The Chronicle confirms that the wounded officer is Kevin Downs, and says he was in "good spirits" Saturday after coming out of surgery, according to a family friend. Also:
Downs co-founded an organization called Ranchin’ Vets that helps veterans who served after 9/11. The organization partners with ranches and farms from across the country to create opportunities in the agricultural industry for veterans and helps them in their transition from military to civilian life.