Last Wednesday, shortly before 11:30 a.m., Nicholas Flusche, 26, was shot and killed at a Subway sandwich shop on Market Street. The incident shut down the major street for several hours afterward, and as information started flowing in, the story appeared to get more and more bizarre. Flusche, a Texas-native who’d apparently moved to San Francisco to start a fitness business, was the suspect killed at the scene. The victim was a Subway employee, who suffered stab wounds and contusions to his head after the violent attack.
Investigators roam through the scene where an SFPD officer shot and killed a stabbing suspect ear Market and Mason streets in San Francisco’s Union Square district Wednesday, May 3, 2017. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)
A week has passed since that hectic and tragic morning, and as is the on-again, off-again custom of the San Francisco Police Department, a Town Hall meeting was held to address the details of the shooting — but although the minute-by-minute details of the event were explained, the mystery of what compelled Flusche to turn violent is still unsolved.
Commander Greg McEachern, head of SFPD’s Investigation Division, described the series of events.
(WARNING: The linked videos below show graphic scenes of violence)
On the morning of May 3, two uniformed police officers were dispatched to a vandalism call at 991 Market St. (the Oxford Street clothing store). But as the officers pulled up to the scene, they were diverted to the Subway sandwich shop at 960 Market St., after calls came in about a physical altercation.
Behind the counter, they spotted Nicholas Flusche in the act of stabbing a Subway employee, and a witness who had jumped in to try to separate the pair. The Subway security footage of the fight, filmed before officers showed up, can be seen here.
When police arrived, the victim and witness escaped from behind the counter, with Flusche in hot pursuit, knife in hand. Officer Kenneth Cha discharged his firearm once, striking Flusche in the lower right part of his back. Despite immediate first aid, he died at the scene.
The bodycam footage from Officer Cha’s partner, whose name has not been released, can be found here.
Officer Cha’s bodycam was blocked during much of the scene, but you can hear part of the chaos of the scene towards the end of this video.
However, the case thickens — Officer Cha was recently transferred to Tenderloin Station, after working a brief desk stint while an investigation was processed over another shooting he was involved with earlier this year. On Jan. 6, Cha shot Sean Moore at his home in Oceanview.
But unlike the video footage of that shooting, which contradicted the official police statement on what happened, the Subway and body camera evidence seems to corroborate the SFPD’s version of events. Each of the four videos released show Flusche violently attacking the victim for several minutes before police arrive — and he was indeed chasing him with a knife.
The victim was transported to the hospital with stab wounds and contusions to his head. He was released the following day. Seven witnesses to the scene have been interviewed about the event.
Whether or not killing a man in this way was justified is definitely up for debate, and the question as to whether the appropriate course of action was taken is still under investigation.
Nicholas Fluche (GoFundMe)
But what seems to be a bigger issue for some is why Flusche committed such a violent act. Our sister publication the SF Examiner reports that he attended Texas State University in San Marcos near Austin, and studied business. He was a dreamer and had big plans to develop a project that would solve baldness. A GoFundMe page has been created by his uncle to transport his body home, and prepare a funeral. So far it’s raised more than $10,000.
“Nick was always the person who was trying to solve problems,” Flusche’s former roommate, Alex Skokowski, told the SF Examiner. “That doesn’t sound like Nick at all. He was a great dude,” he said. “He was a southern gentleman.”