The Last Days of Tom Guido

A Polk Gulch corner store owner was one of the last people to see Guido alive before he was murdered on Jan. 7.

Tom Guido in his younger years. (Photo: Bryan Chandler/Facebook)

Tom Guido, 58, ran the Purple Onion in the 1990s, turning the North Beach nightspot into an underground outpost for punk and garage bands such as The Mummies, The Count Backwards, and the Loudmouths. His neighbor, Frank Khalil, 29, has run the UN Market on the corner of Post and Hyde in Polk Gulch for the past eight years.

Guido became a regular at the UN Market around three years ago when he rented a room above the store at the Weller Hotel at 908 Post St. Around 5 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, Guido came into the store and bought two beers—one for him and one for Michael Dodd, another resident of the Weller. Khalil says that Guido was “laughing and giggling” as he bought the beers.

“He was just the same, same goofy funny guy,” Khalil says. “He was so happy he was taking the beers up to Michael’s room.”

When Khalil walked back into his store after taking a smoke break 45 minutes later, Dodd jumped out one of the hotel’s second story windows. Somebody called to Khalil and he rushed out of the market to see Dodd lying on the pavement.

“Michael, what are you doing man?” Khalil shouted. “Wake up, Michael! You stupid man! You jumping out the window!”

Paramedics came two minutes later and picked up Dodd. Police found Guido in one of the apartments covered in blood from several stab wounds to the head and neck. Both men were taken to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. Guido died later that night. Dodd died two days later.

Police have called Dodd a suspect in Guido’s murder and have labeled the incident a murder-suicide. Khalil describes the two men as “drinking buddies.”

“At least five days a week Tommy and him would drink together, whether the guy was in Tommy’s room or Tommy was in his room,” Khalil says. Guido’s preferred brew was Hurricane, a malt liquor brewed by Anheuser-Busch.

Khalil can’t say if there was anything more to their relationship than the tall boys, but he does say that Dodd had “samurai swords hanging on his wall.”

On the day of the murder, Dodd made several posts on a Facebook page confirmed as Dodd’s by Khalil.

“I have migraines like crazy and I don’t feel right damn this sucks I played football I played soccer I played snowboarding too many hits to my head!” he posted at 2:57 a.m. on January 7. “I’m trying to tell you I’m afraid now.”

At 3:11 a.m. Dodd followed up with a thread about needing to get to sleep.

“I time I told you about whatever things going on it’s time for me to go to sleep,” he wrote.

“I’m going to die in this chamber but you need to find the chamber to where they could put you away and sleep,” he later added. Less than 10 hours later, he was lying on Post Street and Tom Guido was dead.

“Only a couple of people know the real, real truth,” Khalil says. “The only people that really know are Tommy and Michael.”

While Khalil knew both men, he forged a friendship with Guido.

“He (Guido) came to the store, I’d say at least 10 times a day,” Khalil says. “I talked to him on a daily basis.”

“You can ask him 10 trivia questions, and he’ll answer all 10 of them,” Khalil continues. “He really knows. He’s a smart guy.”

Guido fed Khalil’s cat Cocoa and cleaned her litter box. He helped Khalil stock the shelves and swept up in front of the store.

“He’s really, really good at it, believe it or not,” Khalil explains. “We’ve been trying to do it since he left and nobody can do it like Tom. He pays attention to all the little cigarette butts and stuff like that.”

Guido was funny at the Purple Onion when he took over the stage halfway through a band’s set to deliver an extended rant in his whiney, Chrispin Glover type voice. He was still funny during his days at the UN Market. A woman with a dog came into the store just to see him. Khalil told Guido to turn around and say hi to her. “

“…And he bends down to the dog and he says, ‘Hi, my name is Tom’ to the dog instead of the lady,” Khalil recalls, still laughing about it.

“And that’s how funny he was,” Khalil adds.

“I’ve cried over a dozen times already,” Khalil says and notes that that the UN Market is now “very, very quiet” without the sound of Guido’s near constant chatter.

“I’ve never heard so much refrigeration in my life before,” Khalil says. “All I hear is refrigerators.”

A memorial for Tom Guido will be held on Feb. 2, 2019, from 2-6 p.m. at Kells San Francisco, 530 Jackson St. More details can be found here.

h/t to Loudmouth Beth for all of her work documenting the story of Tom Guido and the Purple Onion.

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