Local leader James Spingola shares details after beating in SF's Fillmore District

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Thursday, July 21, 2022
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Ella Hill Hutch Community Center Executive Director James Spingola shares details after recently being assaulted in San Francisco's Fillmore District.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A beloved local leader in San Francisco's Fillmore District is out of the hospital after being beaten Friday morning.

"I'm going to take my glasses off when I explain how I'm doing," said James Spingola, executive director at Ella Hill Hutch Community Center. "As you can see, I guess I'm doing well."

Spingola was attacked by two people after asking them to leave the property and was hit multiple times with a two-by-four.

"My only thought was how do I survive this," Spingola said. "I think the hit in the head knocked me out. The hit in the face was actually trying to put me to sleep, and then I found myself getting hit in the back and that was waking me up."

In that consciousness, he began fighting for his life.

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"I grabbed one of them and put them up under me and that's how I survived this. Then my coworkers came running out, and if they hadn't been here, I'd really be in trouble," Spingola said.

Police arrived on the scene shortly after 11 a.m. and arrested one of the suspects. The other had fled.

"Our investigation believes the suspect fled the scene on foot in an unknown direction and that's why we're not able to take that second suspect into custody," said SFPD Officer Robert Rueca, noting police have surveillance video of the attack and are coming up with a profile in hopes of tracking down the second suspect.

"Investigators are working around the clock to gather the best pieces of evidence to provide to the public or assist us in identifying and locating that suspect."

In the meantime, the community is getting behind Spingola. A GoFundMe page has raised tens of thousands of dollars on his behalf.

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"The fact that people would rally around him in a time like this is absolutely no surprise," said Rev. Arnold Townsend, associate minister at Without Walls Church.

Townsend is a close friend of Spingola's and describes him as deeply devoted to serving the community.

"That he has to suffer this for trying to serve the community is really disgraceful," Townsend said.

As for Spingola, he's going to be upping security at the community center, but by no means is the attack going to slow him down.

"It doesn't scare me," he said. "It doesn't make me think twice about whether I'm going to do it. Just makes me think I can do it better."

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