Police back off suspect on Telegraph Hill

January 4, 2012 9:37:14 PM PST
After a nearly 24-hour standoff with a burglary suspect somewhere on Telegraph Hill in San Francisco, police decided to back off. The suspect is in the middle of dense and thorny shrubbery on a very steep hill.

The officers pulled away from the hill since they decided the risk to both the suspect and the officers was too great to try to arrest him.

The suspect, who calls himself "Dan" ran into the hill Tuesday night after a botched burglary.

Officers will drive patrols past the area every so often throughout the night to try to make contact with the suspect.

Throughout the day the suspect had two options to consider: plunge down a cliff or give up to San Francisco police.

The wait continued on Telegraph Hill Wednesday. Who thought it would go on this long? What was initially a manhunt became more or less a "man-wait." Somewhere up in the brush is the suspect. At least, we think there is a suspect.

Long before the sun came up Wednesday morning, it became abundantly clear that what began as a foiled burglary had evolved into a full-fledged ordeal.

"Right now it's kind of a wait and see," one officer said Wednesday evening.

Cue the officers with flashlights, others with floodlights, and somewhere up there on the hill, the escapades of a suspect who declined to emerge from his hiding place no matter how accommodating the San Francisco police tried to sound.

"We want to be here and if he asks for help, we will give him the assistance he needs. And, if he doesn't ask for help and he pops down into the neighborhood, there are officers around here who will greet him when he does come down," said SFPD Officer Richard Corriea.

He would be coming down from somewhere in a steep thicket, filled with 10-foot high blackberry bushes and thorns, and a slippery slope, in the literal sense. Despite fire trucks and spotters on roofs, Dan had been quite mobile and stealthy, like an urban Rambo.

"This is sort of like a needle in the haystack, but I think he's somewhere in the middle of the thicket over here," said neighbor Bud Zisson.

"We can't really pinpoint him. What we have been told from the officers up above is they hear us better than we hear him, so that would lead us to believe that we're closer to him, that he's closer to the bottom than the top," SFPD Lt. Liam Frost explained.

By midday Wednesday, police had pulled back, figuring by then that a bushwhacking, rappelling pursuit might be more dangerous than it was worth. Dan will come down, eventually, they say, help or no help.

"Your key word is help?" ABC7 asked police.

"Yes. And, it's heartfelt, not just a key word. It is heartfelt. We don't anybody to hurt themselves, and so if he calls out for help, he's got the fire department and the police department to help him."

One of the ways police say they intend to help is with fingerprints. They took prints at the scene of the burglary Tuesday night and would like to see if Dan's fingerprints match.