UPDATE: Prayer services for Benjamin Martinez were cancelled, by request of his family, due to concern for public safety. This story has been updated to reflect the latest news.
In the wake of last week’s murders, the Restorative Justice Ministry for Victims and Survivors of Violent Crimes of the Archdiocese of San Francisco had planned to conduct prayer services for two victims on July 25.
Benjamin Martinez and Matt Sheahan were to both be memorialized at the sites where they were killed.
The memorial for 28-year-old San Franciscan Martinez was to take place at the spot where he was fatally shot on July 19. The suspect fled the scene, and no arrests have been made, according to a San Francisco Police Department spokesman.
According to The San Francisco Appeal, Martinez’s family sought to raise funds for his funeral via the website Youcaring.com. It also reports that Martinez, known as “Benny,” was “a loving brother and son, who left behind his brothers and sisters Rich, Carlos, Lou, Aidan, and Nora, his father, Ernie Escobar, and his grandfather, Robert Martinez.” Viewing services for Martinez are set for this Saturday and Sunday. His funeral will be held Monday.
Martinez’s murder marks the fourth to occur in the Mission neighborhood this year, and the second involving firearms. The Restorative Justice Ministry’s prayer service for Martinez was to be held at the site of the tragedy, but his family has since requested the memorial be cancelled.
A service will be held for Sheahan, 40, who was stabbed in a hotel room on Geary Street early on July 18. According to reports, he had been arguing with his girlfriend Lisa Heng when she allegedly stabbed Sheahan in the chest.
His service will be held outside the Tenderloin Hotel, in the 1000 block of Geary Street, at 10:30 a.m. this Friday, and will be led by Father Tommy King of Saint Boniface’s Church.
All are welcome to “be present and join us in prayer,” organizers say.
BACKGROUND: MURDERS IN THE MISSION
In June 2014, two murders took place in the span of four days.
On the morning of June 13, Dominic Anderson was shot multiple times at the corner of 15th and Mission. The 25-year-old died at San Francisco General Hospital. Recently, Justin Howard was arrested for the murder.
On June 16, 57-year-old Peter Myles was found stabbed to death on 16th Street. Myles was a homeless man who frequented the 16th and Mission area. No arrests have been made in the case.
In January, Mary Freeman, 48, was found dead on the sidewalk near 15th Street and San Bruno Avenue. Police arrested 30-year-old Meron Tasfamariam, who had a history of stalking, in connection to the murder.
Technically, a fifth murder “occurred” in the Mission this year: Although Carlos Vargas, 20, was gunned down in the fall of 2000 on 20th Street, he survived the shooting. Vargas spent the next 13 years in a San Leandro care facility without the use of his arms and legs. His death on January 8 was attributed by an official at the coroner’s office to “multiple bullet wounds.” Because the San Francisco Police Department follows regulations set down by the FBI, Vargas’s death is counted as a 2014 homicide, though there are no known suspects and no arrests have been made.