Union Square is a popular shopping area of San Francisco which sits on the border between the Tenderloin district and the much more upmarket financial district to the East. Usually, it’s full of tourists but on December 28th it was the scene of attempted murder and robbery in broad daylight. While no one was able to stop the attack, one woman did film it and provide images that led to the attacker’s arrest. From the SF Chronicle:
In the graphic video, which a witness posted on YouTube and Twitter, an assailant in a black hoodie and black pants is seen attacking a second man in a gray-and-white hoodie. At one point during the attack, a man is heard repeatedly yelling, “I can’t breathe.”
Onlookers in the footage urged the attacker to stop, one saying “you’re about to kill him,” and at one point a third man attempts to intervene…
Jenny Shao, who uploaded the video, wrote in a caption for the video that a security guard at the nearby Carl’s Jr. told her the two “were arguing over the rights to a Bluetooth speaker they stole from someone or somewhere.”
The police quickly circulated images of the attacker taken from the video shot by Jenny Shao:
SFPD Investigators are seeking the public’s help to identify the man shown in these photographs. He is wanted in a robbery & attempted murder which occurred at Cyril Magnin/Ellis today. Please call our anonymous tip line at(415)575-4444 if you can ID him. SFPD Case 180977559. pic.twitter.com/t0Y6Hilij0
— SFPD Tenderloin (@SFPDTenderloin) December 29, 2018
The person who carried out the beating was identified as 25-year-old Melton Earl Kelly. He has since been arrested and charged with 11 counts including attempted murder and robbery. As you can see in the video below, those charges are entirely warranted.
This morning at 7:19 am SFPD Officers assigned to Tenderloin Station arrested Melton Earl Kelly and took him into custody on the 300 Block of Ellis St. He is being booked at San Francisco County Jail on 11 felony charges including Attempted Murder, Robbery, and Mayhem.
— SFPD Tenderloin (@SFPDTenderloin) December 30, 2018
Kelly reportedly worked at a nearby church called Glide:
KTVU learned that Kelly is an employee at Glide, which is a Church and community located in the city’s Tenderloin District. The organization describes themselves as “a radically inclusive, just and loving community mobilized to alleviate suffering and break the cycles of poverty and marginalization.” Kelly was arrested on his way to work at the church at 7:19 a.m. after a “very active manhunt.”
Glide confirmed that Kelly, who police say is a convicted felon and was already on probation for robbery, was employed as a temporary 90-day worker…
My first thought upon seeing the clip below is to wonder why only one person tried to pull Kelly off the victim. You’d like to think that is something like this was happening in your neighborhood, people would step up and prevent it from getting out of hand. But the truth is, anyone crazy enough to attempt to murder a man in the street in front of several witnesses is crazy enough to try murdering two people in front of witnesses. I think that’s why people are hesitating to get involved. This isn’t a situation where pulling the guy off would end the attack. It’s more likely it would just redirect his anger. Dealing with this would take either an armed person (ideally a cop) or a couple of guys willing to cooperate. Unfortunately for the victim, that didn’t happen here.
This incident happened about 3-4 blocks away from another head-stomping attack in broad daylight which I wrote about last month. The attacker in that incident appeared to be homeless. I have no idea if that’s the case here but it’s clear that this section of San Francisco is in dire need of more police officers. Jenny Shao, who again is the woman who shot the video, says she looked around as this was happening but didn’t see a single cop:
“The victim was being wrestled,” Shao said. “He was being choked. He was gasping for air.”
Shao said she usually sees officers around the area. “But on that day at that moment,” Shao said. “Where were they? I didn’t see a single one.”
Shao also says that everyone else who witnessed the attack left before the police arrived. Kudos to Jenny Shao for doing the right thing and helping police take this thug off the streets. Here’s the clip: