Reports of an armed robbery early Monday led to a bizarre incident in which five people were arrested after an officer fired on a suspect in The City’s third police-involved shooting in six weeks.
Police initially responded to a report of a woman having her cellphone snatched at gunpoint in the 200 block of Minerva Street about 6 a.m. Two men were allegedly involved in the holdup. Officers were able to track the suspects to 28th and Church streets using the GPS feature on the cellphone. Upon arriving, one suspect was arrested, but the other fled, police said.
A female officer caught up to the suspect as he tried to climb over a fence on Valley Street. He reportedly moved quickly toward the officer with his hands in the middle of his torso, prompting the officer to fire a single shot, which did not strike the suspect, police Chief Greg Suhr said.
“The officer did not see a gun, but she was concerned for her safety because she knew that the suspects involved in the robbery were carrying a gun,” said police spokesman Officer Gordon Shyy, referring to initial reports of an armed robbery.
After the officer fired the gun, the pursuit continued and the officer twisted her ankle during the chase. The second suspect got away, but police were able to again use the GPS feature to track the phone, this time to Seventh Avenue.
There, police said, a male driver was stopped and another man was found hiding in the vehicle’s trunk. The stolen phone was found in the car, along with other cellphones and property from other suspected robberies, police said.
Two replica handguns were also discovered, police said. Both men were arrested.
Finally, police went to an address on Eighth Avenue where the car was registered and arrested two other people.
Investigators are working to determine if all five of the suspects were involved in the robberies.
St. Paul’s Elementary School was put on lockdown during the pursuit. Valley Street was blocked off for several hours while an investigation was conducted.
Monday’s incident followed two other recent officer-involved shootings in San Francisco.
Last month, an officer fatally shot a man in the Financial District after he allegedly slashed a co-worker with a box cutter and lunged at an officer. Two weeks later, another officer shot a man in the foot, leg and lower back when he allegedly pointed a handgun at the officer.
After the shootings, Suhr renewed calls for nonlethal weapons, such as stun guns, for his officers. In early August, the Police Commission said it would compile a report within 90 days about all types of nonlethal weapons.
Bay City News contributed to this report.