Friends say his undocumented status could have been the reason he hid in the trunk of a car where police shot him

On Tuesday night at 8:40 p.m., 19-year-old Jesus Adolfo Delgado Duarte and his co-worker closed up shop at the Metro PCS store at 2380 Mission St., near 20th Street.

“My Uber came and so I left,” said the co-worker, Madelin Calderon. Delgado stayed behind. “He was waiting for a friend,” she said.

Two hours later and two blocks away, Delgado became this year’s first Mission District victim of an officer-involved shooting. As in the vast majority of police shootings, what happened will take officials years to determine. But, as quickly as a makeshift memorial went up in front of 626 Capp St. — the building in front of the site of where the shooting occurred — the questions and protests began, as friends marched Wednesday evening to the Mission District police station in protest and remembered their friend.   

Some 15 minutes before the shooting, 18-year-old Maria Zaragoza, who attended the memorial and protest, said she saw Delgado as she parked her car on 26th and York. Delgado and a group of his friends were sitting in a car, she said. She didn’t know what he was up to. “I just seen him,” she said.

“Later that morning, I heard that he got shot,” she said. “It was sad, because the video shows everything, of how he died, and he didn’t even deserve it.”   

Soon after Zaragoza saw her friend, police spotted him two blocks away from his workplace in the trunk of a car, a suspect in an armed robbery incident. Just minutes before, police had arrested the driver of the car, a black Honda Civic.

Police noticed someone in the trunk and surrounded the car on Capp Street near 21st Street. In a video of the incident, police can be heard asking Delgado, in Spanish, to show his left hand. Then, a barrage of shots can be heard.  He was pronounced dead at the scene. As readers have pointed out, another video  appears to show shots coming from the trunk, but police have not confirmed that the victim shot at police. 

 The SFPD have said only that officers found a handgun in the trunk of the car. They arrested 19-year-old Victor Navarro-Flores, the driver of the vehicle who exited the car before the shooting, as well as 18-year-old Christina Juarez, who got out of the car after police shot Delgado. Each was charged with two counts of robbery and one count of conspiracy (updated: 5:03 p.m.). 

Margot Goldstein, who witnessed the incident from her apartment above, said it was the most horrible thing she has witnessed.  “It was like 20 cops pointing at him.”

The SFPD has so far released only a short statement about the incident in which two suspects in the earlier robbery were arrested without a problem.  Of the shooting, they wrote, “The officers noticed that the vehicle’s trunk was ajar and saw a second suspect in the trunk. While attempting to detain the second suspect, an officer-involved shooting occurred. … Officers removed the suspect from the trunk, administered medical aid and summoned an ambulance.   Unfortunately, despite lifesaving efforts, the suspect was declared deceased on the scene.”

Update at noon, March 8. Various media outlets are showing video that they say indicates the victim fired shots and we have included that video above. We have again gone back to the SFPD to ask for confirmation or clarification and received this response at noon today:

This is still an active investigation and information is still being gathered. We are working at this time to put together a Town Hall so that we can provide the media and public with information regarding the incident.

 Best, Officer Giselle Linnane

Delgado was born in Mexico on Christmas Day in 1998, and grew up in the Mission District near 22nd and Bryant streets, where friends said he was living at the time of the incident. He was undocumented, many of his friends said, and his biggest fear was being deported.

“That’s why he hid in the trunk,” said 19-year-old Mari Gallardo, who knew him from elementary school. “That was one of his greatest fears — to get deported.”

Rocio Navarro, 17, agreed. “Especially with all these ICE raids — the rumors of them coming to the Mission,” she said. “He worked in the Mission, so he was very scared of that.”

Delgado started school at Bryant Elementary, and later went to Aptos Middle School. He spent some time at John O’Connell High School, but graduated from Life Learning Academy Charter High School on Treasure Island, according to Calderon and other friends.

He had been working at Metro PCS for nearly a year.

“I just saw a video,” said Victor Gomez, the Metro PCS store manager, who was trying to make sense of the chain of events. “I don’t know why they start shooting. It doesn’t make sense. They should have let him get out. It doesn’t make sense for them to say, ‘Pull your left hand out,’ and then to start shooting.”

When told that officers found a handgun in the trunk, Calderon asked,  “But if he didn’t have it in his hand, why would you shoot?

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Calderon said that, at the store, Delgado was known by his first name, Jesus. Other friends called him Adolfo, or by a nickname, “Dopher.”

“He was young,” said one of his friends standing in front of a makeshift memorial at 626 Capp St., where the shooting took place.

Jessica Suarez, who went to Aptos Middle School and the Boys & Girls Club with Delgado, said he was “really nice, always happy, laughing.”

That disposition served him well at his job, where Calderon and Gomez said he engaged with customers and coworkers. “He was funny and he was, like, a good person,” said Calderon.  “He would talk to all of us, help us out.”

“Yesterday (Tuesday) he seemed really good, helping a lot of customers,” Calderon added.

Gomez said he could be late for work, but “he showed up. He was a good worker.”

At the memorial, friends remembered him as bright and a lot of fun. One friend, a 19-year-old who said he attended John O’Connell with Delgado, said Delgado loved graffiti and street art, as well as riding a bicycle around the Mission. “He was a great person, the life of the party,” he said.

Others agreed that he was a center of gravity, a force that always had the room in stitches.

“When he was the Boys and Girls Club, he had everybody laughing,” said Gallardo, who knew Delgado from Bryant Elementary. “There was not a day that he didn’t have the club laughing at his jokes.”

She said she ran into him four weeks ago, and he had been nervous about a job interview. “I can’t remember where, but he was telling me that he was nervous,” Gallardo said. “I told him to walk in there with confidence, and would get the job.”

Navarro met Delgado in the third grade at Bryant Elementary. She said Delgado and her brother were best friends. He was at her house regularly to visit her brother. “They would hang out, come over to the house and eat,” she said.

She saw him two days ago at her house in the Mission, and on Wednesday morning as she walked to school, her mom called and told her the news. “She told me Adolfo’s dead,” she said. “I stood there for 10 minutes trying to process everything in my head, and I just couldn’t.”

The young friends were clear on another thing. “This is not okay,” Gallardo said. “Why are only brown and black people getting killed? Why is it only us?”  

Back at the Metro PCS store on Mission Street, Gomez, store manager, said he had trouble sitting still in his office. 

“I’m sitting in my office right now, trying to re-arrange the schedule,” he said. “And I’m like, man, I can’t believe I gotta do this.”

The scene after the shooting. Photo by Margot Goldstein.

The scene Wednesday morning on Capp Street. Photo by Margo Goldstein.

By Wednesday afternoon a memorial was up at 626 Capp St. Friends and community members gathered there to remember Delgado. Photo by Julian Mark.

Photo by Julian Mark.

At least 100 community members marched down Mission Street, blocking off intersections and ending their journey at Mission Police Station. Photo by Julian Mark.

Police guard the station as protesters chant, sing and give speeches in the middle of Valencia Street. Photo by Julian Mark.