San Francisco police release photo of suspected subway shooter

San Francisco police were searching Thursday for a man who shot and killed one person and wounded another inside a subway train and then fled when the train stopped in the Castro District, the city’s historically LGBTQ neighborhood.

San Francisco police released a still photo from surveillance video Wednesday night of a man they described as a person of interest and asked anyone with information to contact authorities.

The man, who has not been identified, is believed to be the person who shot and killed a 27-year-old man and wounded a 70-year-old man as the train left Forest Hill station, police said.

The injured person was a bystander who was taken to a hospital with an injured knee, said San Francisco Supervisor Myrna Melgar, whose district includes the Forest Hill neighborhood.

She said witnesses reported three or four shots fired and a “heated verbal argument” between the suspect and the deceased victim. She said the suspect ran off with other passengers when the train stopped.

Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, who represents the Castro district, said the victim and suspect appeared to know each other.

“It’s cold comfort, but it doesn’t feel like this was random,” he said. “It wasn’t someone who, you know, got on the train and just started shooting, which would have been even more horrific. This was horrible enough.”

While authorities said the shooting was unrelated to upcoming Pride events, the death gave a somber start to celebrations at a time when members of the LGBTQ community are experiencing heightened threats, including protests at libraries where drag queens read to children. The station where the suspect escaped is in the heart of San Francisco’s famed Castro neighborhood, known internationally for its LGBTQ activism.

“There have been horrific incidents across the country and even in the Bay Area. So people are nervous, and I’m sure this doesn’t help. People should be alert,” Mandelman said.

The shooting is believed to have been the first on a San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency train, also known as Muni. The agency operates most of the public transportation in the city, including trains, buses, streetcars, and San Francisco’s iconic cable cars.

“The incident that took place this morning is shocking and yet another reason why we must do more to prevent gun violence,” Melgar said in a statement. “There are too many weapons in our society, leading to a verbal argument to the meaningless death of a young life.”

Erica Kato, a spokeswoman for the transit agency, said she did not know how many passengers were on board, but noted that the total number of passengers is about half of what it was before the pandemic. She said the number of passengers to downtown San Francisco is even lower.

The shooting comes just four days before the San Francisco Pride parade, which normally draws thousands of people from around the world.

Still, traffic on the sidewalk was light Wednesday morning.

“I’ve never heard anything like this here,” said Deeno Nasher, manager of the Castro Smoke House. “It’s a little concerning for this neighborhood because Pride is this weekend and they’re trying to be as safe as possible, and something like this happening makes them nervous.”

San Francisco police spokeswoman Kathryn Winters said all Muni trains and subway stations have cameras and police were reviewing the footage.

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