By ANGELA KILDUFF
Photographer Geoffrey Ellis returned home Saturday night to find yellow tape cordoning off the intersection of 19th and Capp streets. With siren lights flashing, police and emergency personnel tended to two victims. They had been shot, an officer told him, one in the leg, and the other in the back.
Ellis lives just a few doors down on Capp Street, and his wife was at home when it happened. She heard the gunshots. He later talked to a neighbor who saw a car speed off after the shots were fired.
“I know people in the neighborhood care for sure,” said Ellis. He spoke to officers on the scene, took a photograph and sent both to local blog Mission Mission.
In the last four weeks, 19th Street between Shotwell and Capp has been the scene of two shootings—one on Friday, Feb. 13, the other on Saturday, Feb. 28. Neighbors said they would like to see less crime and more press attention, but aren’t sitting back and waiting for the police or the press—they are taking the initiative.
“Violence is happening, and it tends to not get the attention of the city,” said Andy Oglesby, 43, who has owned his home on the 500 block of Shotwell for 10 years.
With the help of Jon Shepherd from San Francisco SAFE, a crime-prevention organization, residents started a neighborhood watch several months ago. The next meeting will be 7 p.m. on Monday at Ginger Rubio Salon. Mission Station Captain Stephen Tacchini from the San Francisco Police Department will be there to hear residents’ concerns.
Oglesby said the way crime in the Mission District is ignored “would not be tolerated in, say, Pacific Heights,” adding that he would like to see the district attorney and Supervisor David Campos making violent-crime reduction more of a priority.
However, Oglesby commended the police, saying they are doing an “amazing job.”
Oglesby, a graphic designer, said he doesn’t feel unsafe in the neighborhood, but he is cautious. The violence, he said, “seems to be targeted.”
Just three weeks ago, on Feb. 13, he and his girlfriend were walking home from a neighborhood bar just before midnight when they stepped into the aftermath of a drive-by shooting. Down the street from his home, near 19th and Shotwell, two people had been shot.
“It’s closer than we’re used to, having it right on our block,” Oglesby said.
At the Mission police station’s monthly community meeting last week, Sgt. McDonald of the Gang Task Force said a witness got the license plate of the vehicle. That tip led to multiple arrests and gun seizures.
Sgt. Lyn Tomioka confirmed that two men were booked on attempted murder and gang-related charges. Police said the most recent shootings on Feb. 28 are still under investigation.
Mission Loc@l talked to Carlos Alberto Acevedo, 23, one of the Feb. 28th victims, who lives just across the street from the scene of the crime.
Just after 8 p.m. that night, Acevedo, who cleans offices for a living, said he returned to the neighborhood after dropping off his girlfriend. He stopped briefly on the street to greet an acquaintance, and that’s when it happened. First, he said his back felt hot. Then, the man next to him fell down. One bullet hit his back, another his friend’s leg.
His sister, Karina Acevedo, rents a room with her husband in the same apartment. They were watching television with their newborn child when she heard the gunshots. At the time, she thought they were fireworks.
Acevedo was treated at St. Luke’s Hospital and released early that morning. But after a close shave with mortality, Acevedo is scared. He said he doesn’t know who shot him, and, he added, “Who knows if he’ll come back.”
The neighborhood would like to avoid that happening.
The watch group will help residents keep tabs on crimes like these. On top of gun violence, Oglesby said, the blocks between Folsom and Capp from 17th to 21st are “inundated with prostitution.”
Prostitution and these recent shootings are on the agenda for the group’s meeting on Monday.
Lily Lam is one of the 40 or more residents who have been attending the neighborhood’s monthly meetings. “People are really jazzed about coming together,” she said.
The 33-year-old life coach has lived in the neighborhood for less than a year. She says there’s a “totally nice, very creative and such an artistic flavor on Shotwell Street.” But after dark, she says, it’s a different place. “I don’t know if I feel very safe to walk down the street by myself.”
Lam had heard about the most recent shooting, but not about the one earlier in February.
She isn’t the only one out of the loop. Ted Gigler’s auto shop is just two blocks from Saturday’s shooting and less than a block from the previous one. Gigler was unaware of both incidents. He said he’s had few problems in his 20 years of business there. He also leaves every day at 5 p.m.
Stefania Rousselle contributed reporting to this story.