A 19-year-old man, identified as Jose Escobar by the San Francisco medical examiner, was shot and killed near 16th and Valencia streets early Saturday morning, police said. Neighbors and merchants fear the homicide shows a resurgence of gang violence along 16th Street.
Three merchants who asked that their names not be used for fear of retribution told Mission Local it’s common knowledge that Sureño gang members hang out in groups along 16th, a street flush with nightlife.
Escobar was standing on the corner of 16th and Caledonia shortly before 3 a.m. when he was approached by a suspect who shot him in the upper torso, said San Francisco police spokesman Albie Ezparza. The suspects fled in a car heading east on 16th Street. No description of the suspects is available.
Authorities had first reported that the victim was 22 years old. Police have not said whether the incident was gang-related, but Virginia Nielsen of Comunidad San Dimas, an organization that works with youth in jails, said that it was.
Nielsen, who was Escobar’s spiritual mentor at juvenile hall for three years, said he had been trying to turn his life around.
“He was a very positive kid,” she said. “He saw his future with a lot of joy.”
Escobar had just graduated from high school and dreamed of being a civil engineer, she said.
The gang is believed to be responsible for the unprovoked murder of Lorenzo Jimenez in June, Police Chief Greg Suhr told Mission Local earlier this year. A gang member was also involved in the fatal shooting of a cook at Hog & Rocks last year and the shooting of a pizzeria worker in July.
A group of Escobar’s friends, who knew him as “goofy,” created an altar with candles, flowers and empty bottles of beer early Saturday morning at 16th and Rondel streets. By Sunday night, the altar had been taken down. All that remained was a box of flowers and a few candles.
“He didn’t have a chance,” Nielsen said. “He didn’t have any opportunities.”