Elderly man beaten, killed after midnight trip to buy cigarettes 

The City’s latest homicide victim went out to buy cigarettes. Unfortunately, after buying a pack at a store near his SoMa home early Thursday morning, he never got the chance to smoke one.

Police believe the 71-year-old man was returning from the store just after 1:30 a.m. when he was attacked near Mission and Fifth streets, east of an alley called Mary Street, by a would-be robber who beat the elderly man to the ground. He would later die of those wounds.

A witness saw the suspect, a black man in his 30s who was wearing a black stocking cap and a long black jacket, as he was searching through the victim’s pockets, according to police Sgt. Neville Gittens. The witness yelled and the suspect ran off toward Sixth Street.

Police are unsure if the victim resisted when first approached by the robber, and it’s unclear whether the suspect used his fists or a weapon, Gittens said.

"What we suggest is that when somebody is approached by a robber, you should comply with their demands," Gittens said. "You can always replace your personal items. It’s not worth your own safety."

The victim still had his wallet as well as an unopened pack of cigarettes in his pocket, Gittens said.

The man is the 23rd person killed in San Francisco so far this year. At the same time in 2007, when The City tallied its highest homicide rate in a decade, there were 24 homicides.

bbegin@examiner.com

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Brent Begin

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