San Francisco International Airport - International Terminal. Photo by Michael Ocampo, licensed under CC BY 2.0

The story was originally published on Jan. 20, 2022.

The state Attorney General’s Office confirmed Monday that when San Francisco police officers shot and killed a man at San Francisco International Airport on Thursday, he was “in possession of an airsoft gun, which is not considered a deadly weapon.”

The San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office also confirmed that the deceased was carrying airsoft guns, not firearms. 

The Attorney General’s Office wrote today that “an airsoft gun is not considered a deadly weapon unless it is used in some particular manner likely to produce death or great bodily injury (e.g., as a bludgeon).”

Nine hours after the police shooting on Thursday, the San Francisco Police Department wrote in an email to Mission Local that the suspect had “at least one gun.” At the time, it was unclear whether he opened fire.

The SFPD has not responded to questions about its earlier report. 

The incident began in Terminal G of the San Francisco International Airport, according to the San Francisco Police Department.

At 7:26 a.m., SFPD officers arrived in the International Terminal after receiving multiple calls reporting a suspicious individual.

“The individual continued to display threatening behavior,” said Doug Yakel, the airport spokesperson. “The officers attempted to use nonlethal measures, beanbags, etc., to subdue the suspect. The individual continued to advance towards officers, at which time they discharged several shots at the suspect.”

The man was shot by the police and died at the scene a short time later. Officers said they “rendered aid to the man and summoned medics to the scene” in a press release

At the time, the SFPD said he had at least one gun. 

The man’s identity has not been released so far.

A bystander was also wounded in the shooting. He was treated at the scene by the San Francisco Fire Department and sent to a local hospital for non-life-threatening injuries, according to police. 

Because of the incidents, BART’s SFO Station was briefly closed around 8 a.m., and normal train service resumed at 9 a.m., according to tweets from @SFBARTalert. As of 6 p.m., the primary BART station entrance at SFO remains closed and passengers can use the secondary entrance on the upper level to enter and exit.

The SFPD is conducting investigations into the incident, and will hold a public town hall about the shooting within 10 days. 

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Yujie Zhou is our newest reporter and came on as an intern after graduating from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. She is a full-time staff reporter as part of the Report for America program that helps put young journalists in newsrooms. Before falling in love with the Mission, Yujie covered New York City, studied politics through the “street clashes” in Hong Kong, and earned a wine-tasting certificate in two days. She’s proud to be a bilingual journalist. Follow her on Twitter @Yujie_ZZ.

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11 Comments

  1. ???

    “. . .a ‘suspicious’ individual” (Wtf??)

    “. . .continued to display threatening behavior” (Wtf kind??)

    “. . .suspect ‘had at least one gun'” (Great quantitative analysis!)

    Wow. Here’s remote hope that SFPD will provide clarifying details. That public town hall (meeting?) about the shooting (within 10 days!!!) just might be the perfect opportunity for marble-mouthed attempts to try to sound on top of things while saying nothing elucidating.

    The cops shot and killed someone at the airport. That’s all that’s clear.

    For now.

    1. Google search an image of an airsoft gun and then tell me if you had seen this guy in the airport you wouldn’t have felt unsafe. Mentally deranged or not, after beanbag shots and repeated pleas, what would you have done differently?

      1. Agreed. Take off the one-inch red tip that IDs the Airsoft as a toy and it looks like any other gun. They take a clip to load the soft ammunition, just like a real gun, and they are heavy in the hand, much like a real gun.

  2. Umm… it’s also pretty clear there was a man exhibiting threatening behavior at SFO and wielding what appeared to be a firearm.

  3. Should they have waited till he opened fire before they found out it was a fake gun? At the very least there’s one less idiot on the planet.

  4. You know when you act like this and the police are called and they show up and try to get the situation resolved and under control and they do everything they were taught to do and request for you to STAND STILL – SHOW YOUR HANDS. – KEEP YOUR HANDS WHERE THEY CAN BE SEEN AND TOLD DO NOT REACH AROUND YOUR BACK AND YOU DON’T COMPLY WITH THE OFFICERS DEMANDS AND YOU THEN REACH AND PULL-OUT A WEAPON THEY DON’T HAVE TIME TO SAY HEY WAIT A MINUTE IS THAT A REAL GUN ?? DUH DUH …. FUCK NO 👎 …. YOU DUMBASS YOU DESERVE WHAT YOU GET …. I SAY JUSTICE ⚖️ IS SERVED CLOSED CASE .. ALL THIS SHIT ABOUT OH IT WAS JUST A TOY GUN 🔫 THATS BULLSHIT…. THE OFFICER OR OFFICERS FOLLOWED PROTOCOL…. JUSTIFIED SHOOTING ….

  5. Don’t be dumb and comply and you won’t put yourself into that position…. POLICE ARE 🚔 HERE TO SERVE AND PROTECT NOT kiss ass and look the other way ….

  6. And the police have been issued some sort of magical glasses (a new version of Google glasses, maybe) that allows them to tell the difference between a replica gun, such as those from Airsoft, and an actual working firearm?

    If someone aims a replica firearm at someone else in the hope that the second person will think that it is an actual gun, then there should be no complaints when they get their wish. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

  7. LMAO!

    Well, I’m glad to know proper procedures now that we have more information. Thanks for the schoolin’. 😉

    However…

    Last week’s initial Mission Local report contained none of the details we now have which, btw, were reported in the L.A. Times and SFGATE last Friday.

    Airsoft guns are very real looking, and if confronted with one in the hands of a “suspicious” looking individual, I’d probably have a pretty danged strong reaction to that confrontation. But we didn’t have those (and other) deets from THIS newspaper until TODAY.

    So my initial Wtf’s stand. To this newspaper.

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