Earlier today, the owner of the Mission Cannabis Club, Al Shawa, had to make his first-ever call to the San Francisco Police Department.
The cannabis dispensary proprietor was inside his store when a brawl erupted: Two men were browsing through the shop when another man entered, visibly agitated and seemingly looking for trouble. This man then unleashed a barrage of “fuck you”s and other profanity at the two customers, Shawa said.
He then flashed a gun he had hidden in his backpack.
“He was looking for a fight,” shared Shawa, clearly shaken by the dangerous situation. “The two guys shopping weren’t doing anything to provoke him.”
Shawa said the two customers attempted to disarm the man by wrestling his backpack away. “He’s 6-foot-2, a big guy,” said Nicholes Lewis, who witnessed the commotion and said he knew the armed man from his time living in Hunters Point.
“He’s not someone you wanna mess with; he has a lot of anger, and doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer,” said Lewis.
The customers managed to use scissors to cut the strap of the man’s backpack, which contained the gun, and removed the bag from the man, Shawa said.
Shawa promptly stowed the gun in a safe while calling the police for assistance. When the officers arrived, Shawa handed over the firearm.
The man resisted arrest, said Shawa and Lewis, saying he fought back against the officers. He was eventually driven off in an ambulance for wounds he had sustained to his head — reportedly present before the brawl.
Shawa said that while the police were arresting the man, the manager at a nearby cannabis store, Purple Star at 2520 Mission St., dropped by and testified to the same man having just come into his store earlier and openly declaring, “I could rob this place; I have a gun.”
The man then left that store and apparently went straight to Mission Cannabis Club, a block away at 2441 Mission St.
Mission dispensaries are no strangers to crime: A spate of robberies targeting cannabis clubs hit the neighborhood earlier this year, some perpetrated by armed individuals. Still, applications for new dispensaries continue: The latest in the Mission will be Powerzzzup on Valencia Street, which has said it will employ armed guards.
For Shawa, who grew up in the Mission District and has owned Mission Cannabis Club for 13 years, the ordeal was extremely frightening.
“This was the first time in 13 years that anything like this has happened here. Makes me think I’d rather be safe and move the store elsewhere,” he said.