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Skateboard assault suspect arrested

By Brigid Gaffikin, Bay City News Service

May 31, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) -- Police have booked one man on felony aggravated assault and attempted murder charges in connection with an attack in Golden Gate Park Sunday evening on a man who was knocked to the ground, kicked and beaten with a skateboard, San Francisco police Lt. Tim Foley said today.

The victim, from Daly City, has been released from hospital with numerous facial fractures that will require further treatment, Foley said.

In addition to the arrest, investigators have positively identified two other suspects and are trying to confirm the identities of an additional two men said to be involved in the attack.

All of the suspects are in their early to mid 20s and from San Francisco, he said. The primary suspect is employed and has a residence, as does the second chief suspect, he said.

Foley said the victim and his girlfriend were ambushed by the group around 6:15 p.m. as they came out of a tunnel that connects the park to its Stanyan Street exit, an area frequented by drug users and alcoholics but also by the many tourists and families who visit the park.

"It's an area this kind of thing shouldn't happen," he said.

Investigators think the victim and the primary suspect in the beating "got into some kind of altercation in the Hippie Hill area of the park. The victim was apparently armed and let it be known or displayed a handgun and so the altercation subsided after that," he said.

But that didn't put an end to the dispute.

The primary suspect and four others, whom the victim didn't recognize, took a circuitous route around the park and waited to ambush him as he left the tunnel, according to Foley.

The group walked right up to him, slugged him "right to the ground and put the boots to him," before the primary suspect "came over and finished him off," he said. One of the men used a skateboard to beat the victim in the head, he said.

Foley said the man's girlfriend, also from Daly City, was told to keep out of the fight and was held back by someone she believed was holding a knife to her.

After the assault the men stole the victim's gun and ran off.

Police later found the weapon buried 6 to 8 inches deep in a nearby part of the park.

Foley said that while the Haight Street side of Golden Gate Park is popular with a broad cross-section of San Franciscans and other visitors, the area around Hippie Hill and the Stanyan Street entrance has a seedy side.

Around six months ago police investigated a homicide in the park that was the result of a drug deal gone wrong. And the weapon recovered after this weekend's attack was the second gun found in the area in two weeks, he said.

But criminal activity in this part of Golden Gate Park shouldn't draw attention away from the seriousness of Sunday's attack, he said.

It would be unfortunate if "the viciousness of the attack (got) lost in the fact that this guy had a gun," he said.

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.




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