encampment with orange tent and additional structure fashioned from accumulated garbage and other items
The encampment at South Van Ness and 15th streets from above on Nov. 18, 2021. Residents noted most of the items have accumulated recently, while Javier Zarut (not pictured) has lived there with his tent for some three years. Photo by Christi Azevedo.

Neighbors say that a man booked on charges of assault after a stabbing incident Tuesday near the corner of South Van Ness Avenue and 15th Street is again in the neighborhood. 

The 34-year-old unidentified man who was stabbed Tuesday morning at approximately 9:50 a.m. was treated for non-life-threatening injuries and is expected to survive, according to the San Francisco Police Department. 

Following the incident, police took Javier Zarut, a 48-year-old man living in a tent in a nearby homeless encampment, into custody. This was based on “information that gave them cause to believe that he was the suspect who stabbed the victim,” said Officer Adam Lobsinger, a spokesman for the SFPD.

But, while Zarut was booked at San Francisco County Jail with charges of assault with a deadly weapon and battery causing serious bodily injury, neighborhood residents on Thursday identified a man they believe to be Zarut sitting at the corner he has occupied for over three years.

The San Francisco’s Sheriff’s Office said Zarut was released because his charges were dismissed by the District Attorney. The District Attorney confirmed the case was discharged on Friday for lack of evidence (updated 1:45 p.m. on Nov. 19).

The relationship between the victim and Zarut is also unclear. The case is still under investigation by the San Francisco Police Department, and Lobsinger said there appeared to be “a verbal altercation prior to the assault.”

Christi Azevedo, a resident who lives on the same block as Zarut, said she saw Zarut chasing another man into the street at 8 a.m Tuesday. “But there was no knife, and there was no blood,” she said. By the time she left for a meeting at 10 a.m., police had cordoned off the area around the stabbing site and were putting Zarut in cuffs.

Brantley Patrick Tidmore, who goes by Patrick and owns a building just down the street from the 15th and South Van Ness encampment, noted there was still blood on the sidewalk Tuesday evening. 

He and others had mixed reactions to Zarut’s arrest. “He makes awful comments to women that walk by,” said Tidmore. “He’s gotten into arguments with men who walk by, and gotten himself beaten up because of that.”

Ben Sapone, owner of The Flying Pig, said Zarut sometimes gets “a little out of control, and he’ll be yelling at people.” He confirmed that Zarut had gotten into altercations where he had been stabbed and, in one instance, beaten with hockey sticks.

But Azevedo said Zarut has always been pleasant with her and is often “chilling out” at the corner with a blunt.

We will update the story as we receive more information.

The SF Police Department advises that this case remains an open investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call the SFPD Tip Line at 1-415-575-4444 or Text a Tip to TIP411 and begin the text message with SFPD. You may remain anonymous.

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"Annie" is originally from Nebraska, where she found her calling to journalism as editor of her high school newsletter. Before returning to the field, she studied peace and political science in the Balkans, taught elementary and middle school, and worked as an epidemiologist during the COVID-19 pandemic. Follow her on Twitter @anlancheney.

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  1. Looks like he just got arrested for the most recent stabbing at the same spot. This time the victim died. Not sure if he was the offender, but he was involved and arrested.

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  2. Sounds like more great work by our DA… Definitely not someone that should be allowed on our streets.

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