Robbery suspect dead in officer-involved shooting near San Francisco hospital

ByAlan Wang and Katie Marzullo KGO logo
Thursday, November 12, 2015
Robbery suspect dead in officer-involved shooting near SF hospital
Gunfire at a San Francisco hospital ended Wednesday with police launching flashbang grenades on the suspect who was armed with a stolen rifle. That gunman is dead.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Gunfire at a San Francisco hospital ended Wednesday with police launching flashbang grenades on the suspect who was armed with a stolen rifle. That gunman is dead.

It all started Wednesday afternoon at the Big 5 Sporting Goods store on El Camino Real in San Bruno. Police say the suspect robbed the store and stole that rifle. He then took off for St. Luke's Hospital in San Francisco's Mission District and that's when he found himself in a standoff with SWAT officers.

Police have reopened Cesar Chavez in front of Saint Luke's Hospital. People were trapped inside the hospital with an active shooting going on outside.

A construction worker at the new Saint Luke's Hospital says he saw a suspicious man and possibly a gun and called 911.

"Sirens and police vehicles, screeching tires, it was crazy," said Eduardo Sosa, a witness.

The police chief described what officers saw.

"Reponding officers rushed to the scene and heard shots fired as they arrived," said San Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr. "They exited their vehicles and looked up and atop the construction elevator was a suspect in white coveralls holding a rifle and pointing it at the hospital."

Three officers fired on the man. Then, flash bangs were deployed to ensure he was no longer a threat, as his rifle was still within reach. The man was dead.

Sonja Holman and her 11-year-old son were inside the hospital.

"Everybody moved away from the windows and then they said they're not letting anybody leave the hospital or anybody come back to the hospital and then you just heard all this, it sounded like a bomb," Holman said.

"I was listening to music with my headphones on and I heard a loud bang and I stopped the music and I heard it again. It was loud. It sounded really close," said Travion Gray, a witness.

As the situation was unfolding in San Francisco the San Bruno connection came to light. The suspect matched the description of a man who, armed with a handgun, had just robbed a Big 5 Sporting Goods store.

"We have no idea why he did what he did at the construction site, but he did steal firearms and shotgun shells from Big 5," Suhr said.

Police believe the man drove from San Bruno to Saint Luke's and they found his vehicle at the scene, possibly a white pickup truck that was being scrutinized by officers Wednesday night.

Police searched for a second shooter, but they searched the construction site and believe the man they killed acted alone. No one else was hurt.

Several witnesses captured the SWAT action on their cell phones.

From his apartment window, Jonathan Morey watched the action unfold at the St. Lukes Hospital construction project. He shot video of police officers walking up the stairs towards a construction elevator where it's believed a gunman was firing shots.

"My roommate and I heard the commotion on the third floor here," Morey said. "Initially, we saw a couple of construction workers on the top floor of the construction. They looked like they were running away and maybe getting behind a barricade, or something to protect them."

Nicola Imseeh says he took iPhone video about 100 yards away from the shooter. He says people, on the ground, were running from the shots.

"Like three shots," Imseeh said.

Imseeh moved to San Francisco, two weeks ago, from the West Bank. Morey says snipers set up across the street because they had a clear shot at the gunman. Both Morey and Imseeh heard two quick shots which they believe killed the gunman and ended the standoff.