A man is in the hospital recovering from a gunshot wound after a string of early morning crimes in San Francisco on Wednesday, which came to an end when he attempted to rob an off-duty police officer.
A local NBC affiliate reported that the incident started just before 6 a.m. when police received a call about what was believed to be gunshots. Officers later discovered that the noise was actually probably caused by the suspect attempting to break into a car by hitting the window with a wooden chair leg.
As the suspect was trying to break into the car, a man walked by, noticed the crime being committed and confronted him, to which the suspect responded by hitting the passerby with the chair leg and robbing him of his cell phone. The passerby then went home, cleaned up and left for work, and never called the police to report either crime.
Meanwhile, the suspect had apparently gone to a corner cafe for coffee, but as the passerby left for work, he walked by the cafe and recognized the suspect, who became startled at the sight of the man and threw hot coffee on a woman in the cafe before he ran off. A barista who witnessed the incident chased after him briefly, but he got away.
A short time later, the suspect ended up inside a nearby apartment building where he came in contact with an off-duty San Francisco police officer, and attempted to rob the officer, who was described to reporters by Officer Gordon Shyy as one of the top defensive tactic instructors at the police academy.
The off-duty officer, whose name has not been released, initially drew his weapon and identified himself as law enforcement, but the suspect told the officer that he would just have to shoot him. However, the officer holstered his weapon and attempted to subdue the suspect “hand to hand.”
A physical altercation ensued between the two men and while the officer had the suspect in a choke hold, the suspect bit him before reaching for the officer’s gun. As the two struggled to gain control of the gun, a single shot was fired, which struck the suspect in the chest.
During the struggle, the officer called for back up and additional officers arrived after being briefly delayed when they were unable to get through a locked gate outside the apartment building. The responding officers helped to subdue the suspect, who was transported to a local hospital where he was said to be in critical but stable condition.
The off-duty officer also received some injuries, including lacerations, but is expected to recover.
Police Chief Greg Suhr praised the officer’s actions.
“He had the presence of mind to go through all the different channels before it got down to a firearm,” Suhr said. “He didn’t pull the firearm — there was a struggle over the firearm.”
Suhr described the altercation as “a really vigorous fight” and said there was “quite a bit of blood inside the area.”
Sgt. Monica MacDonald of the San Francisco Police Department told SF Weekly, “I can tell you that the cop is a 15-year veteran and one of our defensive tactic instructors in the academy and well-versed in physical control holds. For someone like that to be in a pretty violent fight was pretty remarkable.”
Residents told reporters that robberies are common in the area, but many people don’t even bother calling the police because they feel that it doesn’t do any good.