San Francisco officials search for answers after
Castro Halloween shootings
By Brent Begin, Bay City News Service
November 1, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - A Halloween celebration in the Castro
neighborhood Tuesday night ran smoothly and was about to wind
down before violence marred the city sponsored event, officials
Police Sgt. Neville Gittens said everything went wrong when shots
rang out in the 2200 block of Market Street. In total, 10 people
were injured. Nine were shot and one woman received a head injury
when she was trampled by the crowd, police said.
Gittens said the shooting happened around 10:45 p.m. after two
groups of about 15 juveniles and young adults began "squaring
off" against each other. One person pulled out a handgun
and fired into the crowd.
Two of the victims -- including the woman who was trampled --
were admitted to San Francisco General Hospital and the other
eight were treated for non-life-threatening injuries and released.
All are expected to recover. Gittens said police are interviewing
the victims and trying to work out, from the many different stories,
what the suspect looked like.
Police are also asking for any potential witnesses to contact
them with information.
And while police attempt to find the shooter, other city officials
are trying to figure out what went wrong and what can be done
in the future.
Mayor Gavin Newsom told reporters today he thought the hundreds
of officers assigned to the area Tuesday night kept things well
under control until the shooting.
He also pointed out that because of this year's improved organization,
ambulances were able to reach the victims quickly and get them
"I don't know if 500 more officers would have made a difference,
truly," Newsom said. "If we're going to have metal detectors
and wands, you know, then maybe that's not the event that this
was always supposed to be about. If you're going to have an armed
camp, if you're going to have national security guards ... then
we may just want to pack it in and say, 'look, let's pick another
Mayor Gavin Newsom
San Francisco Sheriff Michael Hennessey said today he wants to
take a look at last night's events and make any necessary improvements.
"There's going to be a lot of soul searching about what
we're going to do next year," said Hennessey, who was at
the event supervising the nine checkpoints where sheriff's deputies
searched for alcohol and weapons.
According to Hennessey, one of the few problems with the night's
festivities was a series of "pinch points" and bottlenecks
where the tens of thousands of revelers bunched into tight crowds.
In total, the Sheriff's Department made 25 arrests, mostly men
and mostly for public drunkenness, but the numbers don't tell
the whole story, Hennessey said, because they don't include juveniles
who were taken into custody.
This year was the first time city officials planned to stop the
event around 11 p.m. by calling in street sweepers and cleaning
"Once the shooting happened, it was pretty clear that the
night was over," Hennessey said. "We kept things calm
by opening the gates and telling people to leave, urging people
Sheriff Michael Hennessey
Although police are not characterizing this as a gang attack,
Hennessey expressed concern that gang tensions could manifest
themselves in the jails.
"We're highly on edge," he said. This year's shooting
is not the first time violence has broken out at the annual event.
The city took over the event after five people were stabbed during
the 2002 celebration.
Police are asking for the public's help in identifying the shooter.
Anyone with information, especially anyone who lives outside the
city and may not have talked with police already, is urged to
call the Police Department's tip line at (415) 575-4444.
Copyright © 2006 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication,
Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent
of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.