Neighbor says North Beach jewelry store owner may have been robbed during killing 

The elderly man found dead inside a North Beach jewelry store Tuesday night was the store’s owner and he may have been robbed, a neighbor who knew him well said Wednesday morning.

The police found the body of Lyn Magnuson during a well-being check at his store at Mason and Lombard streets Tuesday night. The victim had suffered a gunshot wound, Interim police Chief Jeff Godown said Wednesday.

Magnuson lived and worked on the property, according to his web site.

Neighbors became concerned about Magnuson after he stopped appearing in the neighborhood. He often walked his dog, a German Shepherd, neighbor Roger Foster said. He was in his late 70s and lived alone, Foster added.

Foster last spoke to Magnuson about two weeks ago, he said. It was unclear how long he'd been dead before cops found him Tuesday.

Magnuson had only recently come out of retirement to open the jewelry shop just before the holidays, Foster said. He was very friendly and kind, he said. People in the neighborhood knew him well.

Magnuson was very friendly with transients in the neighborhood, as well, Foster said. The transients would often go to his store to ask for hand outs.

"He was a potential victim for anyone who wanted to come in and strong-arm him," Foster said. "That seems to be what happened."

Police were tight-lipped about the investigation early Wednesday morning. Foster said investigators at the scene said jewelry may have been missing and that a jewelry box was found in a sports complex across the street located behind San Francisco’s North Beach public library branch.

About two weeks ago, Foster asked Magnuson how his business was doing. It did not seem to be doing well due to the economy and newness of the business, Foster said. About 10 days ago, Magnuson began opening his shop on a part-time basis, Foster said.

The shades to his business were drawn while the store was closed, which meant no one could see his body in the shop, Foster said.

Foster became suspicious when Magnuson did not answer the store's bell when a pair of customers dropped by to see him.

According to his website, Magnuson had more than 40 years of experience designing jewelry. For more than 20 years, he was a street artist who sold his jewelry on Fisherman’s Wharf, he said.

“The store was my last step in my goal to become a master goldsmith,” Magnuson wrote on the web site. “I want to thank all of you people who helped me in my struggle to survive as an artist by buying my jewelry. I’m forever grateful. Thank you, Lyn.”

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