Man, 23, fatally shot in Potrero Hill remembered as ‘funny, colorful’ 

click to enlarge Derrick Whitfield, center, seen here in his Mission High School uniform, where he graduated from in 2008, was killed in a shooting Tuesday night. - COURTESY OF ARNOLDO ZELAYA
  • Courtesy of Arnoldo Zelaya
  • Derrick Whitfield, center, seen here in his Mission High School uniform, where he graduated from in 2008, was killed in a shooting Tuesday night.

A 23-year-old San Francisco man and Mission High School graduate who was fatally shot in Potrero Hill Tuesday was remembered by faculty at the school as funny, colorful and well-liked.

Derrick Whitfield, identified by the Medical Examiner's Office as the victim of Tuesday's homicide, graduated in 2008 from Mission High, where current Principal Eric Guthertz was assistant principal at the time.

"I loved the kid," said Guthertz, who was Whitfield's counselor at one point. "I've been heartbroken all morning about this."

Whitfield was shot about 9:15 p.m. in the first block of Turner Terrace in the Potrero Annex public housing area, police said.

Police were called to the scene and found Whitfield with a gunshot wound to the head. He was taken to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

Whitfield's death marks the eighth homicide of the year in San Francisco.

Guthertz said of the thousands of students he taught in his career of more than 25 years, Whitfield still stood out because of his great sense of humor, kindness, compassion and intelligence.

Over the years since he graduated, Whitfield would still come around the campus and say hello, Guthertz said.

"He really was a great guy and this is just a tragedy," he said.

Those sentiments were echoed by Dean of Students Arnoldo Zelaya, who coached Whitfield in football.

He "was one of the most colorful personalities that I have dealt with in my 10 years here," he said. "He was smart, funny and colorful."

Zelaya said "there's not a teacher in the building that didn't love Derrick."

Whitfield played football all four years of high school, the last two on the varsity squad.

"On the football field he was undersized and skinny," Zelaya said, but ended up playing defensive end with "sheer energy and enthusiasm."

Police have not released any suspect description in the shootings as of Wednesday.

A witness who lives nearby and spoke to The San Francisco Examiner recalled hearing the shooting and saw what was believed to be three men fleeing the scene, one of whom appeared to be limping.

The witness remembered hearing "a lot of gunfire, easily two clips unloaded" in what seemed to be a shootout between at least two people.

After the three suspects exited the building on Turner Terrace, they reportedly ran south into a dark area, the witness said. About a minute later, two men were seen running into the building, and about 10 or 15 minutes later police showed up in force, the witness said.

Police then scoured the area in what the witness said looked to be a manhunt. No arrests were made.

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