Police had few answers Tuesday as to why a homeless man attacked a customer outside a local market before allegedly pulling a knife, causing police to shoot him on Monday.
The victim, a 49-year-old Asian male, died at the scene. He began lifting his shirt to expose his chest while yelling and screaming at a customer who was eating outside the Central Market at 517 S. B St. around 1:30 p.m. Monday, according to the shop’s manager, Karen Oda.
"He put a trash can on my car," Oda said. "I thought he was going to set it on fire."
The homeless man then allegedly began attacking a male customer seated outside, and when a female customer inside the shop began screaming, Oda called 911, she said. "I thought they were going to brawl."
The altercation continued down B Street toward Fifth Avenue, where police arrived, according to Oda. "It appears at this time that the officer retreated with the suspect advancing, and shortly thereafter the officer deployed his service weapon and fired several rounds striking the suspect," Lt. Mike Brunicardi said.
The officer, whose name police declined to release, has been routinely suspended pending the completion of an investigation by the District Attorney’s Office. "There hasn’t been an officer-involved shooting [in San Mateo] for quite some time, more than a year," Brunicardi said.
Police recovered an open-pocket knife the man was armed with, but declined to say whether he had threatened police with it.
Several nearby shop owners recalled seeing the man in the area occasionally, or sleeping on a bench in Central Park. He never acted aggressively or caused problems, said Soon Song, owner of San Mateo Cleaners located around the corner from where the shooting occurred. "I was surprised something like this happened," said Soon Song’s son, Danny.
The Songs and other area shop owners said the neighborhood is usually quiet.
The coroner was withholding the shooting victim’s identity until the next of kin could be notified.