Photo by Zoe Ferrigno

At Tuesday evening’s community meeting at the Ingleside police station, Captain Joseph McFadden announced that he will soon be replaced by Captain Jack Hart, now at the city’s Homeland Security Unit. The meeting then turned to a discussion of an early Sunday morning shooting that has left many Bernal Heights residents deeply shaken.

“This is my last community meeting,” Captain McFadden began, as people trickled in to fill the station’s low-ceilinged, brightly lit conference room and settled into folding chairs or spread out around the room’s perimeter to stand.

He then introduced Hart, who will become Ingleside’s captain effective Monday, explaining that like himself, Hart was born, raised, and lives in the district.

The mood in the room quickly darkened as the conversation turned to the shooting that took place outside of a house party in the early hours of Sunday on the 200 block of Bank Street in Bernal Heights.

The house in question was booked through a vacation-rental platform, and advertised as the site of a Saturday-night party. At around 1:30 a.m., automatic gunfire rang out—in all, more than 100 rounds of ammunition were fired, according to police.

Miraculously, no one died, and only two people were injured. They were taken to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, and are being “uncooperative” with police, said McFadden—an indication that they participated in the shooting.

The shooting is being investigated by the San Francisco Police Department’s Gang Task Force. So far, no arrests have been made.

As McFadden relayed facts about the incident, residents who live on the street where the shooting took place raised their hands to offer what they described as frightening details – partygoers climbing their fences and banging on their windows,  people jumping from rooftop to rooftop to flee the shooting, and awaking to a street lined with bullet-riddled cars.

“It’s the most terrifying thing I’ve ever experienced,” said Jennifer, who lives three houses down from where the party was held, and who didn’t want to give her last name. “I’m traumatized.”

She said that she called 911 ten minutes before the shooting began to complain about “hundreds of people in the street” and was told by a dispatcher that several calls had already been placed about the party and that officers would respond when they were able.

“If the police had been proactive and not reactive,” she said, “this whole shooting wouldn’t have occurred.”

McFadden said that, in a district as large as Ingleside, which encompasses 6.5 square miles, dispatchers are forced to give priority to calls reporting active crimes over complaints about noise and parties, especially on a Saturday night.

“I’m very sorry that this happened,” he said.

Another man who lives on Bank Street, and who didn’t want his name used, said he was frustrated that police didn’t contact him after the shooting. “When somebody shoots an automatic weapon right in front your house, you expect the police to talk to you without you asking,” he said. “Just to see if you’re alive.”

He added that several of his neighbors said they have reported the house in question, although Deputy City Attorney Victoria Weatherford, who was at the meeting, stated that the Office of Short-Term Rentals has received no complaints about the property.

She went on to say that the home was being advertised illegally. In San Francisco it’s against the law to rent out a property that isn’t your principal residence; the owner of the home where the party was held does not live in the city, according to Weatherford. The property also did not have a valid rental registration number, which is required.

(Weatherford’s office is currently settling a case with the major rental platforms that operate in the city. Beginning next month, sites will have to verify that all properties that they list have valid numbers; those that don’t will be taken down.)

Captain McFadden encouraged everyone at the meeting to form a neighborhood watch group with the help of the police-affiliated organization SF Safe. “I can’t fix what happened, but we can fix [things] going forward,” he said.

He also shared with the meeting attendees some news about crime in the district that has been resolved, announcing that that an illegal gambling den being run out of the former Jhec of All Trades variety store on Mission Street in the Excelsior had been raided earlier in the day. Several community members had expressed concern about the operation after a Mission Local article from earlier this month detailed its activities.

McFadden said that they had been waiting to act until they had enough evidence to “knock it out permanently.” He added, “I believe we did that today.”

On Monday, Captain McFadden will begin his new role as the head of SFPD’s General Crime Unit. Captain Hart will inherit the Ingleside district and, along with it, responsibility for addressing Sunday night’s shooting.

“To say that I have a connection to the Ingleside district would be an understatement,” Captain Hart told the crowd. “I want to contribute.”

He called the shooting shocking, but added that he’s confident in the Gang Task Force’s ability to resolve the case quickly and with care. “We’ll follow up with them,” he said.

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