In yet another case of a San Francisco felon who was roaming the streets with cases pending against him reoffending in a dangerous and high-profile manner, 25-year-old Erlin Romero was arrested Tuesday and booked into SF County Jail on suspicion of kidnapping DoorDash driver Jeffrey Fang's two children last Saturday while stealing his car.
The case that spurred an Amber Alert and has led to a national story about how San Francisco rallied to respond to it — in which Fang had his minivan stolen Saturday night in Pacific Heights while he was making a dood delivery all while his two young children were still in the backseat — turns out to be another in a series of incidents involving a repeat offender being freed on his own recognizance and committing an even worse crime than he had before.
Romero, as the Chronicle reports, was already wearing an ankle monitor for a previous crime when he was arrested in the Bayview on Tuesday. He was booked on suspicion of two counts of kidnapping, first-degree robbery, and car theft, in addition to other charges. A second suspect is still at large and has not been publicly identified.
Romero was arrested and charged twice in theft incidents last year. He was charged along with another suspect in January 2020 in the alleged theft of a person's bag, and then arrested again in August 2020 when he was found in a stolen car.
On Saturday around 8:45 p.m., Romero and a second suspect allegedly stole Fang's minivan after Fang briefly tousled with one of them, taking off with both his kids inside in an incident that would terrify any parent. The SFPD and the citizenry — following an Amber Alert and a tweet and call to action by Fang's friend, local journalist Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez — mobilized, and about four and a half hours later, at 1:15 a.m., Fang's minivan was spotted in the Bayview, with the kids still safe and OK inside.
ALRIGHT, the children have been found since Sat night.— Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez (@FitzTheReporter) February 8, 2021
I initially left this up so people could track the developments.
But now I'm deleting it so people don't think the kids are still missing.
Details about how Romero was identified as a suspect have not been released — but maybe the ankle monitor helped?
This incident, which was covered by every local new outlet and was one of the biggest news items of last weekend, follows closely on a Thursday morning eight-car crash near Lake Merced that injured multiple drivers and took the life of a 26-year-old jogger. Implicated in that crash is another repeat-offender, 31-year-old Jerry Lyons of San Francisco, who was well known to police and who was days away from being in police custody for an alleged DUI in a stolen vehicle in December.
On New Year's Eve, two women were killed while walking in SoMa when another repeat-offender who was allegedly driving a stolen car while under the influence, 45-year-old Troy Ramon McAlister, crashed into them.
All three of these cases line up as a potential test for San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin, whom the local police union has already tried to frame as soft on crime — and this comes after months of complaints by local law enforcement about the emptying of jails over COVID concerns, following multiple incidents of reoffenders. Though none of the cases previously cited by cops resulted in deaths or dramatic kidnappings.
Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images