Homicide on Julian Avenue

As an update to my post from yesterday, homicide detectives just came to my door to ask if I had any information about the homicide that apparently happened around 2:30 AM Sunday morning. A man was beaten to death and was calling for help, but nobody came to his rescue. 

If you know anything about it, the SFPD flyer has the following information:

On Sunday morning 02/19/12, sometime between 2:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. a man was robbed and then murdered in front of 125 Jullian, [sic] between 15th st, and 16th st . We ask anyone in the area of this street and the blocks surrounding it who saw or heard anything to contact S.F.P.D. YOU CAN REMAIN ANONYMOUS: TIP LINE 415-575-4444

Anyone with information regarding the circumstances surrounding this incident is asked to call Inspector John Cagney of the SFPD Homicide Detail direct at (415) 734-3181 or during business hours (415) 553-1145 (Weekdays from 9AM-5PM) you can also call after hours the SFPD Operations Center at (415) 553-1071, or the anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444

Refer to Case #: 120139612

UPDATE: Mission Local has more about the stabbing death and the people who heard the victim’s cries for help and did nothing. It’s a complicated scenario, when people become used to walking past others in various forms of distress at all hours of the day. A commenter on ML brings up the famous Kitty Genovese case, which this obviously resembles. A man is beaten and stabbed, cries out for someone to call the police, and dies a slow death on a heavily trafficked sidewalk, where his body remains for maybe nine hours.

I’ve lived in the Mission for a long time and seen a lot of people in pain. It’s often not clear if there is anything I could do to help them. I’ve intervened a few times, and I’d like to think when I specifically hear the words “help” or “police” I’d take action. But at the same time, there’s so much drama every day. Two weeks ago on Capp Street a man was yelling at the top of his lungs for someone to call the cops. When I ran outside I found two men who knew each other and were arguing over something petty. They both seemed like they were high, and neither seemed to be in any danger. I was pissed that they tried to involve me in their dispute and yelled at them and they dispersed. Nevertheless, the fact is that one man was calling for help for probably five minutes before I got out there and nobody did anything.

It’s very sad that this man wasn’t able to be saved, and the reasons why, no matter what anyone says, are very complicated.

UPDATE 2: Mission Local now reports that the cause of death is now unknown. He has been identified as Richard Sprague, 47 of San Francisco.

42 Responses to “Homicide on Julian Avenue”

  1. Barbara Graber says:

    How painfully sad. Please be careful!

  2. Jawl says:

    Well, that’s fucked.

  3. blah says:

    Gosh I guess those folks were right: the mission really *isn’t* dangerous. Herpity derpity derp.

    • bilbo says:

      Isn’t it amazing how bad things can happen despite the fact that they’re statistically unlikely to occur? By golley!

  4. ryan says:

    god damnit.

  5. Oaklander says:

    I used to live on that corner and I would hear people getting fucked with all the time. I would always just put my head out the window and yell “I just called the cops — they’re on the way now!” And that simple sentence ended a few beatdowns…

  6. Poplocker says:

    I’m gonna go out as bait one late night using my iPhone freely, but I’ll have my gun with me and I’ll shoot these motherfuckers in the crotch out of self defense.

    • SFdoggy says:

      Good to see that Bernie Goetz is still an inspiration to some.

    • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

      Ok, sure, Internet ToughGuy. Good luck with that.

      • Poplocker says:

        Damn straight you internet wuss. It’s called growing some balls for some street justice.

        • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

          Blah blah blah. All ascii and no action, homeslice.

          • Poplocker says:

            Apparently intelligence lacks in you Herr. Thanks for proving that point. Refresh yourself on the scientific method and the art of war while you struggle to push one out on the toilet cus you seem to be suffering from moral indigestion.

          • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

            Blah blah blah.

        • stiiv says:

          Wasn’t Street Justice that 4Loko knockoff?

        • MrEricSir says:

          No, Mr. Vegetable is right. Besides, if the problem is violence you cannot — by definition — solve it with more violence.

          If you had balls you’d be reporting crimes, not causing them.

          • Poplocker says:

            “by definition” = pseuedo intellectual BS. Really? Hey idiot, there’s something called self-defense which is violence to save your life and preserve the species you wuss! Blah blah blah. You must not know how to fight.

          • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

            Ok, internet toughguy, whatever you say.

  7. the guy says:

    I used to live in the SRO right there. Much bad shit happens on that street. We used to chalk it up to the lack of streetlights and proximity to the hellmouth known as 16th & Mission.

  8. Teotwawki Jones says:

    What a cow-in-sad-ense! Golly, I used to live in that SRO, too. What a small world! But on my floor we all chalked the shit on that street up to our incredibly bad-news low life neighbors in our very same SRO.

    • the guy says:

      I kind of felt like it was a mixed bag. Some were evil, other desperate, and some genuinely good. Seriously, there should be streetlight on that block. I remember when the bank had that scaffolding up. As soon as it came down, bad news decreased considerably.

  9. Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

    This is deeply, deeply disturbing.

  10. Liana says:

    This is so upsetting.

    I was thinking today about how hard it is to know when to intervene… my iphone was stolen out of my hand while I was in line inside Farolito’s, this evening. At first I was a little sad that no one but me ran after the thief, but then I thought about how hard it is to make a snap judgement about a situation and put yourself at risk. Or even notice what’s going on around you, when so much is happening. But then coming home and reading this infinitely more tragic story made me wish we all looked out for each other more… I hope I’ll do my best.

  11. Tracy says:

    I know this scenario all too well…. 3 years ago I was robbed and stabbed in the neck while walking on Valencia- at 16th. I managed to stumble all the way up to 19th street in a daze of shock before collapsing over a parked car. I passed so many people in those 4 blocks but nobody helped me! Finally there was a young couple who did. They were not from SF (or even this country) and I must say I would not be alive had it not been for them (my carotid artery was cut). I have lived in the Mission for over 16 years and it seems that everyone is in their own private world. The people that ultimately saved my life were not part of this community and I must say how thankful I am for them. I truly wish that we all would be more aware of our surroundings and sensitive to the happenings in our neighborhood.

    • GG says:

      Stumbling and visibly bleeding is one thing (although people stumbling drunk through the Mission on a Fri or Sat night are usually too numerous to get my attention)… but this just reminded me of the uneasiness I feel every time I see somebody lying on the ground (especially downtown). It happened just yesterday — I passed a guy who appeared to be homeless, appeared to be sleeping, his hand twitching in kind of an odd way. We can’t call 911 every day on people who are probably asleep/passed out, but I have a lingering fear that someday I’m going to have walked right past a person in serious need of help.

    • moderniste says:

      Yikes. I went through something similar on 15th and Shotwell about 4 years ago–I was sexually assaulted by some scary scumbag who smelled like a homeless dude, and I ran down the street nude from the waist up and bleeding. I saw a couple walking their dog across the street and yelled “Help” and went across the street towards them, and they saw me, and started walking as fast as they could away from me. Nothing has ever made me feel more alone.

      I’m so sorry you had to go through something even worse–being stabbed in the NECK is so gratuitously violent it boggles the mind.

  12. Tracy says:

    Also… Just last week I watched a video here on MM of some Mission hipster harassing a homeless man relentlessly. This was a busy night in front of the Elbo Room- tons of people around and nobody said a thing to that asshole! Once again… ignorance!

    • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

      … And the comments were full of people actively defending the guy who was harassing the hobo. It’s a tough situation, because on the one hand, douchebag harassing hobo is not ok. But, by the same measure, hobos harassing passersby is ALSO not ok. So what’s the answer? I suppose it SHOULD be to involve the proper authorities, but the police can’t be everywhere, and even if they were, stopping “aggressive panhandling” probably isn’t very high on their priority list.

      I don’t know what the solution is.

      • truth says:

        The solution isn’t harassing right back. This only escalates a situation. If people were really interested in fixing it we’d have had a discussion about care for the mentally ill.

  13. 2 cents says:

    I have lived in the mission since 1987 and have done my fair share of calling the cops in many different situations. My current street is surrounded by drunks and crackheads, many who lay around on the sidewalk passed out. This makes it EXTREMELY difficult to know when to call, but when you do, you get snarky attitude from the paramedics, cuz mr. face down with foam coming from his mouth is a “chronic inebriant” and they are tired of running them to General and filling out the paperwork. I have to say someone screaming and begging for help should have gotten at least one call, even in the worst of ‘hoods tho.

  14. Thanks says:

    So a number of people saw and heard the man calling for help and asking for the police while he died a slow, painful death and did nothing? I’d hate to be one of those folks and have that to carry around on my conscience for the rest of my life.

  15. Kraw says:

    This is awful, I can’t believe no one intervened. It’s understandable that no one wanted to physically try to stop the attack (probably a bad idea unless you are law enforcement), but there are other ways to help from a safe distance. Run up the block and scream your head off for help. Words like ‘fire’ and ‘police’ will attract attention. Make noise. Set off a car alarm. Just because everyone else is ignoring the situation doesn’t mean you can’t be that one person who steps in and saves a life.

    Last month I was riding my bike through the panhandle when I came across a girl who was having a seizure on the grass. A bunch of rubbernecking joggers and stroller-pushers were passing right by her, doing nothing, maybe because she was dressed kind of like a street-punk. I called 911 and she came back to reality while the paramedics were treating her. She was not on drugs, and she was having the first seizure of her life. I’m not bringing this up because I think I did anything commendable, but because of my shock that a bunch of people did absolutely nothing.

    Do the right thing when you see someone in need of urgent medical assistance, one day it could be you lying there.

    • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

      Hear, hear.

      • truth says:

        They’ve done studies on this sort of thing and have found that people are less likely to help when they perceive many people around who are also able to help. This is why it is important to remember that you have the responsibility to act in any given situation and you need to mentally overcome the inertia of this sort of group behavior.

  16. GG says:

    The Ex claims to have some additional quotes from neighbors: http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/crime/2012/02/dying-man-s-pleas-ignored

    “Grief-stricken residents who spoke with The San Francisco Examiner on Tuesday regretted their decision to not take action.

    “He stopped talking and I figured somebody helped,” said Louis, a neighbor who refused to provide his last name. “If we called, we probably could have helped. It’s really sad.”

    Both Louis and neighbor Moises Encinas, 21, said they heard other voices outside and figured the situation was under control. They had no idea Sprague was gasping for his last breaths.

    “I heard ‘help’ in my dream, then I woke up,” Encinas said.

    The neighbor who claimed to have first called police said she went outside about 6:30 a.m. and saw Sprague motionless on the sidewalk. She said she figured he was “sleeping it off,” and went back inside. An hour later, she said she came back outside, took a closer look at the body and noticed bruising and swelling.”

  17. If you actually live in The Mission, then you know why this happened the way it did. If you don’t, then put a bucket under your hand-wringing and tell us what you get.

  18. hipster jesus says:

    Darn those uncaring do-nothings. Is this some hard hitting reporting like when there was that neck-breaking rapist who was breaking necks around here?

  19. damian says:

    recipe for a julian st.incident:you mix:one jigger of black apathy…one jigger of latino indifference…one jigger of asian detatchment…one jigger of white cowardice(the jiggers can be mixed and remixed to balance out the ingerients for everyone)add:lots of crack;garbage;and wretched drug,alcohol,and tobacco addicted homelessness;a dash of racial hatred;a dash of racial guilt;and some lack of basis respect..mix finely with:a subculture city wide of can and bottle “recyclers”(at times this can seem to be half of the citys population)…shake real well..pour out..you can also add conflicting lifestyles in the big city(but seriously folks;i was just joking…but jokingly folks;i was just being serious)