Police were able to apprehend the 70-year-old driver a few blocks from the incident shortly after the chaos began Saturday afternoon.
Video captured on cellphone shows the horrifying moments as bystanders can be heard yelling "get out of the way" of the van's path.
"He was moving slowly enough where people were trying to open the door and trying to get the driver out because he wasn't stopping," said witness, Paul Schiavoni.
It was around 3:15 p.m. Saturday when Schiavoni and a friend were walking down the busy Castro street. "We heard a lot of noise, turned around and we were being chased by a minivan," said Schiavoni.
The driver of the van jumped the curb near Market and Castro and drove erratically on the sidewalk, hitting Rossi's Deli.
VIDEO: Man drives on San Francisco sidewalk
"I was just finishing up a transaction and out of nowhere, this car just comes and sideswipes the store," said Wadie Dughman, who was working the cash register.
Surveillance video shows Dughman ducking behind the counter as the van took out the front store window. "It was so quick, it was just a flash of an eye."
The driver kept on going down the sidewalk - even driving in reverse to clear a path.
"I was going to try to take a picture of it and all of a sudden his backup lights when on," said witness, Linda Lee. "He was trying to backup and everyone screamed."
The driver got back onto the street and was stopped less than half a mile on 18th and Sanchez streets. Police have only identified the driver as a 70-year-old man.
Officials are still trying to understand what led the driver to act so erratic but have ruled out terrorism.
"There's no sinister intent, so no hint of terrorism or homophobia," said San Francisco Board Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, who represents the area.
Other than property damage, no one was hurt during the chaos. Still, many nerves were left shaken.