Two gang-related killings in the Mission district within 24 hours of each other Tuesday have prompted police to increase patrols in the neighborhood.
The police will be flooding known gang areas of the Mission district with more beat cops and also plainclothes officers driving “cool cars,” which are vehicles that do not resemble marked or unmarked patrol cars, Mission Station Capt. Greg Corrales said Wednesday.
“Any time there’s a gang-related shooting, we have to prepare for retaliation,” he said.
The recent violence started with the killing of a cook at Hog and Rocks restaurant at 19th and San Carlos streets at 12:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Gaspar Puch-tzek, a 22-year-old father of two, was smoking outside the eatery with another man when he was approached by two Hispanic men in their late 20s and shot in the head.
Puch-tzek later died at San Francisco General Hospital.
Police said the men mistook Puch-tzek for a gang member, which he is not. Puch-tzek worked two jobs, often leaving the restaurant late at night to start work at a nearby bakery at 4 a.m., Hog and Rocks owner David Elser said.
The attackers are believed to be Norteños who targeted the rival Sureños, Corrales said. Hog and Rocks is located in Sureños gang territory, police said.
The killing near the Mission district eatery was followed Tuesday night at 11:30 p.m. when a known Sureños gang member was shot dead in the 800 block of Hampshire Street, about 10 blocks from the earlier shooting, police said.
The victim, identified as Edson Lacayo, 29, of San Francisco, suffered three bullet wounds and was pronounced dead at the scene.
On Wednesday morning, mourners stood around a makeshift memorial for Lacayo. They refused to talk to the media. One sobbing man with an unneutered pit bull threatened a San Francisco Examiner reporter. The man grabbed at his waistband while warning the reporter about being on the block.
It remains unclear whether the two shootings were related, police said.
Police have been on high alert since violence between the warring gangs erupted earlier this year. During a two-week period starting late February, there were at least six incidents of gang-related violence — four shootings and two stabbings.
The violence was believed to have been sparked by Sureño graffiti appearing on Norteño turf near 19th and Bryant streets Feb. 18, according to police.
Until Tuesday, Corrales said a fatal March 2 shooting was the last confirmed incident related to gang violence in the Mission.
The fatal shootings have not worried merchants, as gang violence has been on the decline and the recent incidents appear to be isolated, said Peter Glikshtern, president of the Mission Merchants Association.
“The guy that’s running Mission precinct is fantastic,” Glikshtern said. “He’s all about busting the bad guys. I don’t worry about this becoming a new trend.”
Bay City News contributed to this report