Following a homicide where a man’s screams for help were ignored by neighbors, Mission Captain Bob Moser promised to host a presentation on how to report crime at the station’s next meeting.

Tuesday night was the first time Moser addressed the community since the man, Richard Sprague, a 47-year-old San Francisco resident, was killed on Julian Ave., between 15th and 16th streets.

“I’m curious, do you have any perspective on what the neighbors said on why they didn’t call?” a resident asked Moser about the Feb. 19 homicide.

“I did read there were some comments about people saying ‘hey we hear people screaming and yelling all the time and why bother.’ That I find particularly troubling, we really don’t want to create a culture where people feel ‘oh this is expected so we’re not going to call,” Moser said.

The resident agreed, but added, “I live on one of those streets and people scream their heads off, usually they’re drunk out of their minds or high.”

A woman who lives near 15th and Guerrero said she heard a gunshot about a week or two ago. “I’m so disgusted about the police not doing their job that I didn’t know to call,” she told Moser, but then she had second thoughts. “I thought you know if I’m on the sidewalk, I’d want somebody to help me.”

In another incident earlier this year, she called police after hearing a gunshot outside her apartment. She later found out that a bullet had gone through someone’s car at Valencia Gardens.

“Anytime something like that happens,” Moser said, that’s a definite 911 call,” he said explaining that the shooting was under investigation.

Moser said the presentation on how to report on crime will take place at the next community meeting the last Tuesday of March. He will explain then how to distinguish whether it’s appropriate to call 911 for an emergency or 311.

Julian Avenue residents previously told Mission Loc@l that they heard screams around 2 a.m. the morning the homicide happened but didn’t think anything of it.

It wasn’t until several hours later that a resident noticed the man belly up on Julian Avenue wasn’t moving. She then called 911.

Police said they received a call at 7:42 a.m. and officers were at the scene shortly after. They found Sprague unconscious and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Moser told the 20 community members who attended Tuesday’s meeting that more officers are being sent to the area of 16th and Mission streets, a block away from Julian Avenue because he knows the intersection has crime and quality-of-life problems.

“We’re obviously not going to fix that area overnight,” Moser said, “but we want to encourage people to be good reporters we want to encourage people to not accept this as common place, that’s what really bothers me.”

Although Moser said he couldn’t disclose much more about the homicide because it’s still under investigation, he told the audience that a suspect who was found in possession of Sprague’s credit card, was arrested.

Roland Pouncy was arrested at 15th and Mission streets approximately nine hours after Sprague was found. He pleaded not guilty to possession of stolen property last week and is being held on $55,000 bail.

“Although the officers at Mission station do a fantastic job, you have to remember we have close to 100,000 residents that live in this district, not to mention everybody that comes through our district on a daily basis,” Moser said.

“Our officers could be at the other end of the district, they may not be around the corner so it’s important that we get phone calls,” he said.

At the meeting, the captain also reported that there were 29 aggravated assaults in the last month compared to 11 in the previous reporting period, from December to January.

“They’re not random, they’re usually between people that know each other,” Moser said adding that arrests for these types of assaults are up 164 percent from the last reporting period.

Robberies on the other hand are down 42 percent.

When asked about a bank robbery that happened at U.S. Bank at 16th and Mission streets, Moser said the FBI is still investigating the case.

Hélène Goupil

Hélène Goupil is an editor at Mission Local and a lecturer at U.C. Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism. She's the co-author of "San Francisco: The Unknown City." In 2008, she helped start Mission...

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  1. But if you do call, the dispatchers ask 20 questions, and when the police arrive (assuming they always do, which isn’t always the case) the girlfriend getting beaten up, the crackhead breaking car windows, etc. are long gone.

    1. I’ve had very good response from the SFPD non-emergency number. Some street person (?) was making a whole bunch of noise around 4:00 a.m. about three nights ago and fighting with his (girl?)friend. The police were there within five minutes, and there were only a couple relevant questions from dispatch. It’s a simple effort to call, and better if a number of people call – that expedites SFPD response.

  2. PART of the reason that SOME people are poor – please note the capitalized provisos – is that they are mentally ill and/or substance abusers and/or criminal. If we provide housing (public housing, Sec. 8, SRO’s) for poor people, especially if we concentrate such housing in one part of one neighborhood, failing to take account of this component of the poor, problems are inevitable, and police can provide little more than an “after the fact” intervention.

  3. I live in the somewhat quieter end of the Mission (25th st) and have called the police a couple times, mostly for people fighting, once I saw a couple break into a car.. But every time I’ve called the police they literally came in 2 minutes. I don’t think a lot of people want to get involved though, so they don’t call the police. But if someone gets busted on my street, they are going to tell their friends and hopefully avoid my area. We all need to be accountable!

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