Community, family of SF woman allegedly killed by neighbor say attack could have been prevented

Dion Lim Image
Saturday, May 20, 2023
Neighbors say SF woman's alleged murder could have been avoided
Community members and family of San Francisco woman allegedly killed by her neighbor say the deadly stabbing could have been prevented.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Family of a slain 64-year-old San Francisco woman, along with community members, are calling for answers as to why the man arrested for her murder was allowed to live in the same Duboce Avenue building, despite an alleged history of complaints from other tenants.

"She epitomizes the great contributions immigrants make to our city and our country. She should not be forgotten. This is an injustice and everyone should know Ms. Hu's name."

The sadness felt by Olga Miranda is over the stabbing death of Mei Ran Hu on May 6.

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Miranda, the president of the janitorial union SEIU Local 87, is frustrated by the way Ms. Hu, who was a part of the union for many years, was killed.

"This could have been prevented and more safety protocols could have happened. So she could still be with us right now," she said.

Hu's next-door neighbor, 41-year-old Jesus Esparza, was arrested and charged with her murder.

Bridge Management is the company that runs the housing facility where they both lived and where Ms. Hu was killed.

According to Bridge, even though Esparza was not a senior, he qualified for low-income housing due to his disability related to mental health and lived at the property since 2017.

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The woman's family says she tried to escape into a nearby stairwell after being stabbed three times but succumbed to her injuries. This is why they're sharing the painful story.

At Friday's initial court hearing for Mr. Esparza, his lawyer talked about his mental health, saying more investigation was needed to determine his fitness for trial.

She further stated: "The family is really worried about him because he doesn't know what's going on, why he is where he is or what happened."

When asked about Esparza, a resident at the Duboce property exclaimed, "This guy had no business being here!" And cited incidents where Esparza had been aggressive with other tenants.

Ms. Hu's niece, who requested she only be referred to as "Shan," is now asking for answers on why this happened in the first place.

"Maybe something could have been done to prevent it. We're also concerned of the safety of the city, and everyone around here," Shan said.

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Bridge would not confirm if there were formal complaints filed about Mr. Esparza, citing privacy. But many residents claim there has been a long history of issues.

"My neighbor... he moved out of the building. Even after that, the gentleman (Esparza) wasn't removed. He absolutely should have been screened out of the process," one resident said.

The San Francsico Housing Authority confirms they refer all residents to each property but say it's up to building management to handle tenant complaints.

Multiple residents told me they were afraid to speak out, in fears of losing their coveted spot in low-income housing.

Supervisor Rafael Mandelman says Ms. Hu's killing illustrates a much bigger issue issue in the low income housing industry in the city, and calls for more preventative measures, especially from the state.

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"We need to create more facilities for longterm, facilities for mental illness. What we're doing right now is not working. Having the counties responsible for these facilities has not worked," Mandelman said.

As for Ms. Hu's son and niece, they thank the community for their support of a GoFundMe to help with funeral expenses.

As they mourn they continue to grapple with the question, of why.

The janitor's union, which Ms. Hu was a part of, will be holding a rally next week to keep her memory alive and call for change so this does not happen again. Esparza's public defender tells me her client's next court appearance will be June 12.

This story was a collaboration between ABC7 News anchor Dion Lim and reporter Han Li of our media partner the San Francisco Standard. You can read more of their reporting here.

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