This is the image officers got Friday from security camera identified as the suspect as they looked for him after shooting. pic.twitter.com/cgvDRjJpgp— Vic Lee (@vicleeabc7) October 17, 2016
The man who allegedly shot a San Francisco Police Department officer Friday has been identified this morning, a day after he succumbed to injuries sustained as police attempted to subdue him following the attack.
According to the San Francisco Medical Examiner's Office 26-year-old Nicholas McWherter, a resident of Pacifica, was the man who allegedly shot an SFPD officer identified by multiple news outlets as 25-year-old Kevin Downs at around 8:15 Friday evening.
As previously reported, police say that Downs and his partner were called to the Lakeshore Plaza Shopping Center on reports that McWherter was "threatening people and causing a disturbance" in what was identified by Hoodline as the Big 5 sporting goods store.
Police tracked McWherter 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," police said early Saturday morning.
"Two people, a cop and then the other guy was running from this direction that way and then all we heard was shots, like four or five shots and then we heard a scream like officer down really loudly," witness Alex Melendez told ABC 7.
"The officer had no clue he had a firearm. And before he knew it, the subject fired on him," Chaplin told media Sunday.
McWherter fled into Stern Grove, police say, spurring a massive manhunt in the area. At around 9:17 p.m., police say he "emerged from the bushes located at 28th Avenue and Vicente Street." As McWherter allegedly "attempted to flee," several officers gave chase and shot him, 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 Downs, who a police spokesperson emphasizes has not been identified by the SFPD, and McWherter were transported to San Francisco General Hospital for treatment of their injuries. According to the SFPD, at 3:16 p.m. on Sunday McWherter "passed due to his injuries."
According to SFPD Chief Toney Chaplin, who visited with Downs Sunday, the officer "remains in critical, but stable condition after receiving a gunshot wound to the head." Addressing the media following the visit, Chaplin said that while the situation remains serious, it could have been a lot worse, saying “One centimeter down and this may have been a fatality for the officer. He underwent surgery to remove fragments from his brain,” and is currently suffering from partial paralysis as a result of his injuries.
ABC 7 reports that Downs has been with the SFPD for two years. His father is a retired San Francisco police officer, they say.
"The officer and his family are extremely grateful for the outpouring of support from members of the public as well as Mayor Ed Lee, the Board of Supervisors and the Police Commission," the SFPD said via statement. "At this time, the officer’s family requests privacy to focus on a successful recovery."
A spokesperson with the SFPD says that this remains an open and active investigation, with police now focusing on McWherter's background. According to police, before he died his family was "able to visit with him" and was "briefed on the investigation.”
Chaplin says that police made every effort to safely detain McWherter, but were ultimately unsucessful.
“This is 21st century policing at its best,” Chaplin told media. “They did everything they could to make sure sure that at least the subject had a fighting chance.”
According to an SFPD spokesperson, a town hall meeting will be held this week — perhaps as soon as Thursday — to give residents information about the shooting, and that "more details will be made available as the investigation unfolds."