A Tale of Two Neighborhoods

With his motorcycles and his tattoos, Jon Bryce LaPierre is almost prototypically blue-collar. He's also an almost archetypal bully, and he's got the yuppie neighbors scared witless.

Between December 1994 and December 1996, 15 calls were made to the Ingleside police station, complaining of activity at the LaPierre house. It's impossible to tell from Police Department records where the calls came from; some could have originated with the LaPierres themselves. Still, 15 calls in 24 months -- with more than half occurring in a two-month period late last year -- is an unusually high number. At least, that's what Capt. Richard Bruce, the newly appointed commander at the Ingleside station, says.

"Let's start with the 800 call, the call to report an insane person," Bruce says sardonically as he reads from a computer-generated list of incident calls.

That tantalizing call came in at 4:21 p.m. on Nov. 21 last year. But Bruce can't provide additional information, because no further police report was made. About a month later, an officer arrived at the LaPierre house and then asked for backup. Again, no further report was filed to explain why a San Francisco police officer responding to a call at the LaPierre house felt the need to call more cops to the scene.

Other calls during this period involved a wide array of alleged malfeasance that did not apparently result in arrests.

LaPierre declined repeated requests to be interviewed for this article, so his take on the terrifying reputation he has acquired is not available. It is clear, however, that his behavior has left emotional bruises on his neighbors.

Conditions were at their worst about 18 months ago, says neighbor Raul Sampedro, when LaPierre befriended a Samoan family on Peralta Avenue. (The family has since moved.) One member of that family, a huge man covered in tattoos, had just been released from the penitentiary -- or so he told the neighbors.

Extravagant drinking, auto and motorcycle racing, dusk-to-dawn parties in the street, loud music, scores of people and their souped-up cars and cycles -- all this was standard practice at the LaPierre household, Sampedro says.

One night, the 77-year-old Sampedro says, he had had enough. It was about 2 a.m. and there was honking, shouting, music-blaring cacophony coming from down the street. Throwing on his robe, Sampedro ran down the block and caught up with LaPierre, who was sitting in one of his trucks. "He told me to shut up or he'd put me down," Sampedro remembers. Just then, another neighbor came out to see what the racket was. "He no doubt stopped [LaPierre] from hitting me," Sampedro says.

Fed up, several neighbors called a block meeting to discuss LaPierre's disturbing behavior. They invited their troublesome neighbor, but he refused to attend. Another invitee, a police officer from the Ingleside station, dropped by and heard the complaints. For a while, cops made more frequent patrols. For a while, things quieted down.

Now, though, Sampedro says he's afraid to even look at LaPierre. It used to be that Sampedro's son, a prize-winning boxer and a Marine, lived at home. At 6 feet 3 inches and 300 pounds, the son was bigger and stronger than LaPierre. The son is gone now, living in another city. The police don't come by that often anymore, either.

A retired warehouseman leaves his home for his daily walk around the neighborhood. Asked about LaPierre, he relates a story from the mid-'80s, when he witnessed LaPierre chase a guy down the street. The man jumped into his car, grabbed a gun, and waved it at LaPierre. "He flew back into his house, boy," the man says.

Down on Franconia Street, at the other end of Samoset, a man answers his doorbell in a thin robe. He wears a sparkling gold chain around his neck. After some preliminaries, he begins discussing events of 20 years ago, when the man first moved to the neighborhood. Back then, he says, he would frequently find Jon and Kevin, both in their 20s at the time, on his steps, drinking beer. When he would ask them to leave, the brothers would pour out their beer on his entryway rug.

"See this gate," he says, clutching a heavy black iron security gate at the bottom of stairs leading to his second-floor apartment. "I put this here because of them."

Down the hill, closer to the flatlands, Judy Turturici insists that LaPierre revels in his bully image. Whenever he passes her on his motorcycle, she says, he backfires his engine -- or "pops his pipes" -- letting loose a loud, frightening bang. And, every time, Turturici yells, telling LaPierre what an asshole he is. In this oft-repeated ritual, Turturici says, LaPierre will stop his bike, pull up the visor on his helmet, and sneer at Turturici for a long while, before banging his pipes one final, deafening time, and roaring off.

Lori Feazell has never lived in Jon LaPierre's neighborhood, but he has become a focal point in her professional life -- something of a fixation, actually. Two years after the first and only time she met LaPierre, Feazell still has pictures posted in her office to remind her of him. On a nearby table is a more than 4-foot-tall trophy that also serves as a totem of her brief but intense dealings with LaPierre. Underneath her desk is a locked briefcase with files and a mug shot of the neighborhood bully.

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