Suspect in SF Mission District standoff talks to ABC7 News

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Samantha Helstrom was apologetic for, in her words, "scaring anyone" with what we now know was a replica gun. (KGO-TV)

Businesses were evacuated, pedestrians moved and residents kept from getting home during a 7-hour standoff in San Francisco's Mission District on what would have been a busy Friday night.

We now know that standoff was over a fake gun. The San Francisco District Attorney's Office confirmed Samantha Helstrom faces two misdemeanor counts of brandishing a replica firearm.

On Friday afternoon, police closed off several blocks and evacuated businesses out of a concern for public safety. Police said Helstrom was barricaded inside the Crown Hotel at Valencia and 16th Streets. The standoff lasted more than 7 hours and had a major impact on businesses in the area.

Helstrom said she doesn't remember all of it. She was apologetic for, in her words, "scaring anyone" with what we now know was a replica gun.

On Monday, San Francisco police said that while the standoff may have been an inconvenience, property and time can be recouped.

Police released her mugshot but Helstrom asked us not to show her face during an interview with ABC7 News.

Inside the San Francisco County Jail, Samantha Helstrom described in her words the events leading up to the standoff. "Feeling depressed, a lot of times I'll go and I'll drink alcohol and I decided to go and buy a very large bottle," said Helstrom.



Helstrom said she fell asleep watching a movie and woke up to negotiators' commands. "They were telling me, 'Samantha we need you to come out of your room,' and I told them, 'I didn't do anything.'"

Police said Helstrom threatened a building manager and pest control employee with a firearm. Also that a handgun was later recovered from her apartment but she says it wasn't real. "I had an airsoft gun that I bought. It's semi-realistic, it's not a real firearm," said Helstrom.

On Monday, the San Francisco District Attorney's Office confirmed Helstrom is charged with two misdemeanor counts of brandishing a replica firearm.

She said she remembers being shot by rubber bullets in her leg after police said she advanced at them and they said they saw the outline of an object in her front waistband. "At one point, when I came out, I said, 'Go ahead and shoot me, I don't care,'" said Helstrom.

All the while, officers were running down the street, evacuating businesses and shielding pedestrians.

"The police officer just told us you should run, you should run, because we got out and we were walking and he was kind of gesturing toward us like you better run, you better run," said witness Amirah Mizrahi on Friday.

"I think it was an over-reaction. That was not a de-escalation, that was an escalation," said Helstrom.

"We're not going to leave it at chance for anyone or anything that might cause an incident to get worse, especially when you're thinking about the well-being and the safety of the public," said SFPD Spokesperson Officer Robert Rueca on Monday.

Police have said Helstrom was known to them.

During her interview with ABC7 News, Helstrom talked about a 2012 incident at another single room occupancy hotel in North Beach. "I had accidentally shot my door, it was an accident," said Helstrom.

At the time San Francisco police said the bomb squad found possible explosives inside.

As for Friday's incident, Helstrom said, "If I scared them in a delirium and I was drinking too much, I'm very sorry for that."

Helstrom surrendered just after 9 p.m. Friday.


Related Topics:
standoffbarricadegunsSFPDevacuationMission DistrictSan Francisco
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