While San Francisco sees its fair share of crime, it actually has a lower homicide rate than many other cities across the U.S. Last year, 59 people were killed in S.F., and while undeniably tragic, it’s not a high number when one considers the city’s density. But last month, S.F. saw a spike in murders, in a year that started off slowly. Nine people were killed in May, bringing the city’s homicide count to 27.
The month’s first murder took place on the afternoon of May 1, as 15-year-old Reajon Jackson drove down Sunset Boulevard near Kirkham Street. He was shot to death by an unknown assailant, but a passenger in the vehicle escaped unscathed.
Two days later, Nicholas Flusche, 26, was shot and killed by Officer Kenneth Cha after he allegedly attacked and stabbed a Subway employee on Market Street. The case drew headlines when Cha’s name was leaked, as he was responsible for a second officer-involved shooting that occurred in Oceanview in January. The case is under investigation.
On May 4, shortly after 2 a.m., Christian Centano, 20, was shot killed in the Tenderloin District. Two suspects were booked into County Jail on suspicion of murder and conspiracy.
Oakland resident Eduardo Tay, 23, died in the Bayview on May 6 after being shot near the intersection of Palou and Quint streets. His death marked the city’s 20th homicide of the year.
Two weeks after she was attacked at a bus stop in the Mission, 66-year-old Maria Andere Ferez died on May 14. A man pepper-sprayed her, and though a witness intervened, the ensuing struggle resulted in Ferez being pushed to the ground, where she suffered injuries that led to her death.
On May 21, Kelly Freeman, 32, was found with gunshot wounds in the Marina District after someone called SFPD to conduct a welfare check. He was taken to the hospital, but died of his injuries.
A runner discovered a man suffering from stab wounds in Bernal Heights Park on May 25. He was later identified as Giovanny Alvarez, 33, a lifelong neighborhood resident and a father of four. No arrests were immediately made in the case.
Alvaro Palma, 30, was shot multiple times by a security guard at a bar on May 28 in the Ingleside District. The guard has since been taken into custody on felony charges of murder, possession of narcotics for sales, and possession of a controlled substance while armed.
Lastly, Aaron Johnson, 45, was stabbed to death on Treat Avenue in the early hours of May 29. The key suspect in the case, Lyris Wolfe, had been a teacher’s aide in the San Francisco Unified School District for the past 15 years.
The bloody month, while horrible, does not necessarily mark a significant increase in violent crime. By May 31 of last year, 21 people had been murdered in San Francisco. Compared with this year’s number of 27, we’re not that far ahead.
But as we reported last month, there has been an increase in gun violence in the city over the past two years.In 2016, homicides by firearm increased by 15 percent, people shot non-fatally increased by 27 percent, and 12 percent more firearms were seized from people than in the year prior. While the murder rate doesn’t appear to be rising sharply yet, the fact that six of the nine murders that occurred in May involved firearms is a worthwhile trend to track as the year progresses.