The longtime owner of a corner store on Franklin Street in San Francisco was brutally stabbed multiple times last week in an incident of random violence that followed his storefront being smashed by a car.
It's another in a seemingly endless series of disheartening and tragic stories coming out of the city in recent months, often impacting elder residents with violent assaults. 72-year-old Petros "Peter" Yohannes, the owner of Franklin Market at Franklin and Austin streets (between Bush and Pine), was attacked last Wednesday morning while he was at the store assessing damages from an attempted burglary the night before, in which an SUV tried to smash through the front window. As ABC 7 reports, a male suspect ran into the store asking to use the bathroom, assaulted Yohannes, and then got into a scuffle in which a weapon was pulled and Yohannes was stabbed multiple times, including in his left eye.
Luckily, a longtime customer who is a doctor came to Yohannes's aid, applying pressure to his wounds and calling an ambulance.
Yohannes, who immigrated to the U.S. from Eritrea 25 years ago, remains hospitalized, and his daughter has started a GoFundMe to help with his medical expenses, saying he is uninsured. Also, his wife was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.
"My parents have been proud small business owners in San Francisco for 25 years," writes Katerina Yohannes. "Unfortunately, due to the recent spike of violence and burglaries they felt defeated and had essentially been living/working in fear. Heartbroken, they agreed to retire in the coming months and begin a new chapter of their lives."
But, Katerina writes, before that could happen, the violence came to their door, and her father has lost one eye and is reportedly struggling to regain sight in the other. He received multiple other wounds to his chest and arms.
"When I heard that news [about Peter] I broke down and started crying because he's such a good, genuine, kind, decent man and the whole community knows him," says longtime customer Edward Lubin, speaking to ABC 7.
A suspect has been arrested in the stabbing, as the SFPD confirmed Wednesday. Per ABC 7, 30-year-old Donovan Cole Catron was ID'd by officers "after police say he attempted to rob another victim, a 56-year-old man, of his duffel bag on Monday at 3rd and Stevenson streets." An officer recognized Catron from surveillance images in the June 2 stabbing at Franklin Market.
The store is situated along Austin Street, one of the half-dozen alleys that cross Polk Gulch and Van Ness from Larkin Street between larger streets, several of which have been the sites of violence and homicide in the last couple of years. A 25-year-old man was fatally shot on Fern Street, a few blocks away at Polk, on May 8. Nearby on Polk Street near Clay, a woman was arrested and charged in a series of violent assaults on Asian American victims in March. Fern Street was also the site of a fatal stabbing two years ago.
A few blocks away in Japantown, an elderly woman was assaulted and mugged on May 11 at Laguna and Ellis street.
"My dad has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I know," says Katerina Yohannes. "If you had ever stopped in his store guaranteed you left laughing, with a smile, or even a quick history lesson. If you were lucky, you’d get all three."
So far, the crowdfunding campaign has raised almost $25,000, but she says her father faces "a long recovery ahead."
Top image: Katerina Yohannes via GoFundMe