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Close Encounters March 2023

March 1, 2023

Probably not a good idea to ignite a firecracker in the direction of the police car that’s stopped right next to you but that’s exactly what happened to Officer John Crocket and Officer Gustavo Lopez who were on uniform patrol, driving a marked unit and decided to investigate further. The further investigation resulted in the 2 officers confiscating over 400 pounds of illegal product marked “Explosive Fireworks” costing the vendors of this operation close to a $4 thousand dollar loss!

Officer Stephen Cassinelli, Officer Jeffrey Ospital, and Officer Raymond Lee were on uniform patrol in the Mission when they had the opportunity to check out a car that had a stolen license plate attached to it. As the officers started their approach the occupant immediately made a motion as though trying to retrieve something so the officers repositioned themselves and took a tactical cover. The suspect then abandoned his car and took up other cover nearby. The officers ordered him to come out from where he was hiding but it was a stand-off for some time until further units could arrive to assist in the investigation at which time the suspect was taken into custody.
A gun was located during the stand-off, discarded by the suspect. You just never know!!

The following officers responded to a call of a “person with a gun” on the unit block of Turk Street in the early morning hours after the sun just came up:
Officer Vinesh, Officer Joseph Eyad, Officer John Silvestri, Officer Bartholomew Sullivan, Officer Adam Green, Officer Reynalee Medina, Officer Corbyn Carroll, Officer Mark Schneider, Officer Declan Maher, and Officer Roger Moore.
Once on site the officers found that the subject in question did have a gun and did make threats to another party. That weapon was confiscated.
Obviously one of the more dangerous calls is “a person with a gun” because the officers have no idea what this might entail. Especially when there’s multiple calls confirming the presence of a deadly weapon.

Every once in a while Officers are called to a scene to assist another agency. In this case it was SFPD responding to help an ambulance crew with a combative patient.
Officer Cullen Roche, Officer Colin Ryan, Officer Christopher O’Brien, Officer Bartholomew Sullivan, Officer Myles McMaster, and Officer Kiera O’Shea responded to assist. The subject they were dealing with was a convicted felon so they relieved him of the 2 fully-loaded guns he had tucked away in his apartment.
You just never know.

Criminal drug dealers from the East Bay who commute into the San Francisco Civic Center are nothing new to officers assigned to Tenderloin Station. Most just hop on a BART train to do so. Of course, if one is a more style-conscious fentanyl dealer, one might just as soon drive his nice BMW into the area instead of using common public transit. It shows more class. That is exactly what one miscreant did recently, but did not count on the sharp memory of a federal protection guard and exceptional investigative abilities of local Tenderloin officers to thwart his work day.

Having recognized a suspect from a shooting incident months earlier that went down in the alley behind the federal building, one federal guard monitoring live video of the same alley notified the SFPD. Officers Seamus Jensen and John Silvestri responded and determined that the man seen in the alley was one and the same as the shooter seen from the earlier incident. The suspect had moved on, but the officers collected still images of him knowing that he would most likely reappear soon.

And soon he did -- the very next day! Spotted again on the live security video feed, the federal guard again tipped off Tenderloin officers. Sergeant Brendan Caraway arrived and quickly organized several officers in the response and search of the area. Officers Colin Ryan, Michael Fye, Joe Dal Porto, and Ryan McEachern located and detained the suspect near 7th and Mission Streets. After further investigation using the still-shot images produced the day before by Officers Jensen and Silvestri, he was placed under arrest. That’s when Officer Dal Porto found a loaded 9mm handgun in the Oakland resident’s backpack, along with more than 2 ounces of suspected fentanyl and hundreds of dollars of suspected proceeds from the sale of the drugs. Also found on the security-minded bad guy were a set of brass knuckles that he might use to defend himself lest someone attempt to jack his cool Beemer that he left parked nearby.
What a great arrest and example of the exceptional teamwork practiced between the federal security guards and local Tenderloin officers.

Teamwork and cooperation are not unusual at the Tenderloin Station. Take for example the tip that Co. J officers followed up on after receiving information from narcotics Officer Mike Cunnie. Mike contacted Sergeant Danny Solorzano and asked that he and other Co. J officers be on the lookout for a shooting suspect seen in a vehicle in the area of Golden Gate and Leavenworth. Mike cautioned that the suspect was probably armed.

Sergeant Solorzano and Sergeant Justin Erb devised a plan to locate and detain the suspect. While conducting surveillance in the area, the suspect was spotted driving away from the area in the same vehicle that had been described by Mike Cunnie. Officers Vic Custodio and Chris Barajas spotted the now parked car and saw its two occupants exit, one of whom matched the description given earlier by Mike Cunnie. The officers approached the suspect, who quickly attempted to flee on foot, but he was stopped and detained by responding officers Danny Nguyen, Fidel Gonzalez, and Sergeants Justin Erb and Yasar Shah. While taking the man into custody, they found on him a loaded Polymer 80 pistol. The second occupant of the vehicle was wanted by the US Marshal Service.

We couldn’t agree more with Tenderloin Station Lt. Kevin Horan when he wrote that, “The residents, visitors, and merchants of San Francisco should be relieved to know that despite the many challenges law enforcement faces daily, the hard-working cops of the SFPD are constantly out there doing great police work, taking guns, drugs, and violent offenders off the street.”

After several pistol brandishing suspects carjacked an innocent victim on Treasure Island and sped away in the frightened man’s Mercedes Benz, Officers Jean-Michel M’Bourokounda and Daniel St. Clair (who had just started their shift) later spotted the stolen car in the area of Cesar Chavez and Connecticut Streets. The suspects realized that they had been spotted, and sped away with the officers in pursuit. The officers did terminate the pursuit when the suspects drove recklessly into on-coming traffic. However, a short time later, Officers Jensen, Victor Custodio, Claudia Lara, and Jimmy Fowler located the Mercedes northbound on 3rd Street from Folsom Street and re-engaged the pursuit under less perilous conditions. That pursuit ended abruptly when the bad guys were forced to abandon the stolen car after getting blocked in by traffic. The four gun-wielding baddies bailed and fled on foot. All four were chased down and taken into custody by responding officers Officers Jensen, Custodio, Lara, and Fowler, Gabriel Alcaraz, Andrew Hidalgo and Cory Faubel.

Officer Brent Grennell and Officer M’Bouroukounda responded to the termination point and recovered the Tec-9 pistol, along with a polymer pistol with a 24-round magazine and an illegal modification which allowed it to be fired fully automatic. These guns were all recovered just a mere 300 feet from Starr King Elementary School!

Officer Christopher Leong (Crime Gun Investigations Center) responded to the scene and took custody of the firearms. Officer Leong determined the polymer pistol was a privately manufactured firearm without a serial number, commonly referred to as a “ghost gun”. He coordinated DNA/fingerprinting for the seized firearms, assisted with recovering the victim’s stolen property, and assisted with the seizure of the suspect’s cell phones for forensics and analysis.

We whole-heartedly agree with the words written into the supervisor’s report: “The initial astute observations of Officer St. Clair and Officer M’Bouroukounda while patrolling their district were commendable. The listed officers were directly involved in a coordinated effort which involved superior observation skills, multi-tasking, decision making, emergency vehicle operation, and physical abilities – all which occurred during moments of high stress. With the likelihood these suspects were on a violent crime spree, there is no doubt the involved officers were directly responsible for preserving public safety, providing a sense of security to the victims, and holding these violent suspects accountable.”