The man accused of sucker-punching a tiny 94-year-old woman in an apparently unprovoked attack last weekend on bustling Stockton Street in Chinatown is a regular in the area known to holler belligerently at people on the street, witnesses to the incident told police.
James Gene Bartley, 52, of San Francisco, is facing felony assault and elder abuse enhancement charges in connection with the beating that seriously injured a frail 75-pound woman as she walked with a cane about 4:45 p.m. Saturday.
Bartley could not attend his first court date Wednesday because he was being held for a mental evaluation at San Francisco General Hospital.
According to police, Bartley approached the woman from behind as she was crossing Sacramento Street and punched her without provocation, causing her to fall.
As of Wednesday, the woman, who is only 4-foot-5, reportedly was still in an intensive care unit with a broken rib and nose, minor bleeding in the brain and a laceration on her scalp.
Bartley was not seen speaking to the woman before punching her, according to the police report. After the attack, police said, witnesses in the area chased after Bartley, who was yelling incoherently. At one point, he shouted, “I’m going to kill you!”
Police responded and eventually found and arrested Bartley at Columbus Avenue and Greenwich Street in North Beach.
People in the congested area of Stockton Street — where the sidewalks tend to be clogged with people and the streets packed with vehicles during the afternoon — say Bartley is a regular in the area who’s known to shout incoherently at passers-by.
On Wednesday, his bail was set at $275,000 and the case was continued to Friday for an arraignment and assignment of an attorney, prosecutors said.