San Francisco police recover Kenneth Harding’s gun from Bayview shootout 

Police said Thursday the gun a Seattle parolee allegedly used to fire at officers in the Bayview district earlier this month — and with which he then killed himself — has been found.

Kenneth Harding Jr., a 19-year-old who was being sought in a homicide investigation, fled when officers stopped him for evading a Muni fare at Third Street and Palou Avenue the afternoon of July 16. The gun that police said Harding fired at officers while running went missing from the scene —  prompting concern and anger from some residents that police had shot an unarmed man.

Some onlookers recorded the scene with cellphones and later posted video online, one of which shows an object resembling a gun on the ground several feet from where Harding collapsed.

A neighborhood resident led officers to the gun “after a weeklong community effort,” police said Thursday. Lt. Troy Dangerfield would not say where and when, only that the gun had been “recently tested.”

Police said lab ballistics tests confirmed the gun — a small silver and black AMT .380-caliber semi-automatic pistol that police believe was snatched from the ground by an onlooker as Harding lay dying — matched the weapon that fired the bullet that killed Harding.

“We are sure it’s the gun that was in the cellphone video, and the tests confirm that it was the gun that was used to fire the fatal shot,” Dangerfield said.

An autopsy of Harding’s body found the bullet that likely killed him, a .380-caliber, had entered Harding’s neck and lodged in his head. Officers carry .40-caliber handguns that cannot fire .380-caliber bullets, police said. A second .380-caliber bullet was recovered from Harding’s jacket pocket, police said.

Police Chief Greg Suhr has speculated that Harding may have shot himself accidentally while running, after being hit in the leg by return fire from officers.

A gun initially believed to have belonged to Harding was recovered from a nearby home in the Bayview hours after the shooting, but that was a .45-caliber weapon.

Police thanked the Bayview community for assisting in the investigation, but whether Thursday’s news puts to rest suspicions by others remains to be seen.

“We hope other members of the community understand that we’re trying to be as transparent as possible, without compromising the ongoing investigation,” Dangerfield said.

aburack@sfexaminer.com

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