Bernal Neighbor Alleges Mission Merchant Was Reluctant to Assist After Assault


About a week ago, Neighbor Joyce was assaulted on Mission Street near the intersection with Crescent. But as she tells the story, that wasn’t the terrible part:

I needed to get some items for dinner from the corner store on Wednesday night and headed up to La Loma Produce, a little Mom’n Pop shop on Mission between Crescent and Richland. I started picking out my limes, and noticed a man screaming to no one in particular at the corner, and I did my best to ignore him. Regardless, he then started walking quickly towards me, screaming.

And then, he punched me.

Scared and stunned, I yelled at him to get away from me and back off. He continued to scream at me, and I ran into the entrance of the store, continuing to yell at him to leave me alone. He kept screaming for a little bit and then finally left, heading south on Mission.

I was still scared and shocked, but my emotions quickly turned to anger. Why? Because when I was in La Loma Produce, I asked the store clerks for help, to call the police, because I had just been assaulted outside their store (and of course, neglected to bring my cell phone on what I thought would be a 30 second jaunt to the corner store).

They stared at me with blank looks and did nothing. They would not help me. The man ignored me and the woman shrugged her shoulders and said “He’s gone, what do you want?”. I repeatedly pleaded for help and they continued to do nothing but just look at each other. I finally asked, “Do you ever want me to shop here again?”, to which she handed me their phone and finally allowed me to make a call to the police. Why this made a difference, is mind-boggling.

After my 911 call, I waited outside on a bench for the police to arrive. During this time, the woman came out several times and said “they’re still not here yet?”. I found these remarks further infuriating, given their lack of compassion in the first place.

The police arrived within 10 minutes and took me to identify the suspected perpetrator. Indeed, they found the suspect. He apparently is a frequentor of the area, well-known to the police, and had also been recently cited for harassing customers at a local coffee shop. I don’t know of his fate. However, I can honestly say that I do not have any hard feelings for him as it was plainly obvious that he had mental health issues.

I do, however, have hard feelings for those clerks at La Loma Produce, who had the ability and choice to help me but wouldn’t. In fact, I find the lack of compassion very disappointing. I can entertain many reasons why they would not call the police, but to be frank, I don’t care. A society declines if we make an active choice not to help others in need, if we are void of compassion. I cannot support a community store that does not support its community. Thus, we will exercise our choice: my family will no longer be shopping at La Loma Produce, 3835 Mission between Crescent and Richland.

63 thoughts on “Bernal Neighbor Alleges Mission Merchant Was Reluctant to Assist After Assault

  1. Shocking. Definitely should be boycotted. Might there be something else one could do to show this store that this is not okay? Incredibly insensitive and rude people like this are not good neighbors and I cannot imagine what they are thinking. If it were me, I would also complain about the store on various local sites (Yelp?), one called Viewpoints, and wherever else I could do so. The store should’ve been concerned for the customer and should’ve done everything they could to help a person in obvious danger and distress.

  2. I’m sorry Joyce had such a bad experience. I have shopped at La Loma many times, and i have noticed that they are oddly un-social. I originally just chalked it up to language barrier, but after a number of visits, I noticed an almost complete lack of interaction. I’m not looking for a ton of conversation. It was just impersonal.

  3. My sympathies to neighbor joyce for this horrible experience, and for the lack of mental health services in our world. I hope you heal quickly. My next door neighbor’s large, young adult son is exactly like this perpetrator. Heart-breaking and endlessly trying. Beyond that, the article seems lacking in some information – has anyone spoken to the *owner* of the store about this, and the horrid behavior of his/her clerks?! You’ll just stop shopping at your corner store because some clerks behaved badly, rather than talk with the owner? It makes me wonder if perhaps the store workers have had bad experiences with shoppers treating them rudely or worse. I’ve seen that happen in several of my corner stores, and the clerks simply no longer speak to or look at certain customers. If this is a regular corner store for some here, maybe some heartfelt communication with the owner would be in order to address this, to educate his clerks, and to ask if the store personnel have regular bad experiences with customers.

  4. As a Crescent Ave. neighbor, I pretty sure I know the crazy guy we’re talking about. I know that the Loma Produce folks have had to deal with him on numerous occasions. My guess is that they’ve called the police themselves and been disappointed, but that’s no excuse for ignoring Joyce’s pleas – very disappointing.

    Is there anyone from the police department who does outreach to local businesses about how to respond in such a situation?

  5. The police don’t always respond to calls of crazy people screaming or other out of control behavior by the mentally ill because nothing results from their interventions. People do not press charges because clearly the person appears mentally ill so the police take them to Psychiatric Emergency Services (PES) at SFGH and place them on a 5150 psychiatric hold (5150 hold is good for up to 3 days but unusually the hold is dropped within 23 hours). I am a psychiatric nurse ( having worked there and other psych ERs for over 14 years) and if a patient is brought in under these circumstances we typically keep them a few hours for observation and if their behavior is OK while in the hospital they are released. There are not enough psychiatric beds… where we used to keep a patient like this for a month to stabilize we now have stricter standards for hospitalization. (The stardard joke is you have to be trying to kill your psychiatrist or killing someone in front of your psychiatrist). I know the general public believe that when they do not press charges the perpetrator is given help but this is largely NOT the case. That is likely why the clerks at this store where so passive… they have probably witnessed this half a dozen times. The state hospitals have been closed and the jails are now the largest mental health facilities. I guess prison is supposed to be more humane than Bedlam.

    • ODDLAUGH: You’re correct. I worked for a year as an investigator in the Public Defender’s Office 1976-77, in the Mental Health Division. I have worked to win and save funding for, and to produce, “supportive housing” for mentally disabled people for a long time. And there is no good place to put this guy besides jail or prison. But he should be 5150d and then kept off the streets. He is clearly a danger to others, and perhaps himself. I/Bernal activists have a relationship with the Progress Foundation, and helped them site two facilities in Bernal – in the face of fierce NIMBY opposition which, as is virtually always the case, was based on hysterical, prejudiced and false assumptions. If this guy is out and about and a danger to others, I’d be willing to work with some other folks to get the SFPD to do something ti get him off of the street, and try to see if Progress Foundation would admit him. IN ANY CASE, WHAT DO YOU SUGGEST WE DO, BEFORE HE SERIOUSLY HARMS SOMEONE ELSE OR HIMSELF? BUCKB@DEVINEGONG.COM

      • The mental health system has deteriorated even further than you could imagine possible in the last 30 years. I started working at SFGH in 1990 on an in-patient locked psychiatric unit and we used to keep someone like this for a month now we are lucky if this guy even gets admitted onto an in-patient unit.. More likely released after an over night stay in the psych ER. The trouble with Progress Foundation is the patient has to have been stabilized enough to be willing to go there voluntarily. This man very likely does not believe he has a mental illness and would not be willing to take medication for an ‘illness he does not have’… medication which could diminish the auditory hallucinations and relieve some of the psychosis. Part of the problem is that the general public does not know about the situation.
        Support Laura’s Law in California it is one big step to the larger solution. If concerned neighbors exert enough pressure to get this man on a 5150 and then enough neighbors call into the Psych ER at SFGH when he arrives there to talk to the psychiatrist and call hospital administration apply pressure to admit him they might admit him but even then average length of stay in the hospital is about 7 days. Anti psychotic medication does kick in immediately it takes typically about 2 weeks to really start seeing a difference and then that is still not long enough for the patient to gain insight in his illness. Every patient is different though.

  6. Very bad news that Joyce was punched; luckily it was not worse. It is sad when the mentally ill do not get the help they need or refuse any help. Where are this guy’s family?!
    Disgusting that nobody from La Loma Produce helped Joyce. What is wrong w/these people?! Of course, it seems to be very typical. Definitely a good idea to boycott the place.
    Having moved into the neighborhood about 13 years ago, I checked out the different places to shop /dine on Mission St close to my home. Quickly went back to my old standbys. Most places are filthy; products are dismal; the owners/clerks are rude, indifferent; ask a question, they give you a blank stare, the walk away; only speak to other Hispanics; the list goes on.
    Seems more likely that the owners/clerks from this store or other businesses along Mission St would not call the police either way. This has been known to happen even when someone is murdered [& in broad daylight]. What is the saying – ‘snitches get stiches’?
    Glen Park & Cortland have great places to shop for groceries, friendly, clean, good prices plus very convenient.
    Glad SFPD caught the guy.

  7. Unfortunately, some humans become dulled and no longer see people around them as being deserving of compassion. How terrible for you that they seemed to lack this basic human trait that is naturally present in most humans.

  8. My sympathy to Joyce but I can’t help but feel like calling for a boycott is an expression of not knowing what to do with all the chaotic feelings that result from trauma. I think there are more effective, thoughtful responses to the problem.

    • Just wanted to point out that she did not call for a boycott from all Bernal residents. She said she was going to exercise “choice” and her family would no longer shop there, which seems like a very valid response.

    • Nothing gets someone’s attention to a pressing problem better than a sudden drop-off in business, but they have to know why it is happening. Maybe a single flyer posted on the nearest phone pole would help make the point. You may not even need to actually boycott – just let them know of the possibility. As for her “chaotic feelings?” I don’t think they are chaotic, but quite rational. If you have ever been attacked, you would realize that.

      • That’s interesting. I’ve spent much of my life working with soldiers suffering from PTSD. What are your qualifications? And with all due respect, the aftermath of trauma is characterized by a surge of chaotic feelings. If you knew what you were actually talking about, you would realize that.

  9. I think that was cold hearted of them not to call you in such a time of panic and shock.Whatever their circumstances for NOT wanting To call the police.Your suppose
    To help your neighbors !!

  10. I’m sorry to hear this happened. I shop at La Loma on occasion. One of the owners is a mustached man, and he’s always been friendly. However, there is a young man who sometimes mans the counter, perhaps he’s the son of the owners, and he seems intellectually or linguistically or socially challenged.

    I would suggest a conversation with the mustached owner.

  11. I’m sorry to hear that this happened. La Loma was where I went for last-minute items as well, when I used to live down the block. The couple who work there seemed friendly enough (given a major language barrier). It’s sad to hear that they weren’t more helpful or sympathetic.

  12. Mixed feelings on this…they have very much had to deal with this person a LOT and gotten no support from cruisers pulling up in 2 minutes to address his problems. It’s Mission St!..,things still get very weird, I shop there occasionally. It’s not ever going to be Cortland, which used to be very dangerous until recently– at the corner of Martha Bros Coffee (Ellsworth).
    Unfortunately they’re (the woman working the register) scared and Latino and you’re white and they didn’t do well with a chronic problem guy in your moment of being assaulted.

    • Sorry Doxter, you’re incorrect on the race card. I’m not Caucasian, and it’s interesting you presumed I was.

  13. Okay, someone hit her. From the tantrum she threw it appears that her EGO was hurt much more than her body. I say, “Shine it on”, or in other words, get on with your life. As to boycotting a grocer, save that for a REAL problem. People are so quick to anger and “get justice” when their best answer is to simply shrug it off and go on with life.

    • David, I have read your comments on this blog and you generally come across as a whiner. With this one, you have hit a new low. Are you really that unsympathetic to someone that has been assaulted? You are better off making no comment than the stupidity you typed above.

      • A WHINER? How many things have I complained about? I said that if people are upset at the bus parking then they should move their OWN vehicles off the street and make it an even playing field. That’s not whining. The only thing that could be construed as whining was my comment about the hipsters with the double-wide baby carriages forcing people off the street.

        But as to someone being “assaulted”, she was hit, probably lightly. She didn’t say anything about needing any ambulance or needing stitches or first aid care OF ANY KIND, and she was obviously well enough to yell at the grocer about not having called the cops.

        SHE is guilty of whining. Just buck up and move on. My mother was tough; she built battleships in World War II. She’d have rolled her eyes about the “assault” and told the woman to get a life.

      • Joyce: About my mom. You wanna DISS my affection for my parents? I lost my mom to acute peritonitis at age 22. I lost my dad to asbestosis also at age 22. I lost 6 dozen friends to AIDS in the 1980s. By the time I was 25 I’d lost my entire social support structure and my family support because I came out as a gay rights activist and my extended family disowned me. Then later, I lost one boyfriend in a car accident in Dixon, and I lost another boyfriend to a bike accident in Seattle. But back to my mom and dad. My mother taught me many things about people. She used to set up lots of social events and do volunteer work of all kinds. I have tried to faithfully carry on that tradition by starting social groups of all different kinds and getting people together to meet each other and create community. I have largely succeeded. Our GBLT group, the Pacific Center (which I co-founded) has just celebrated its 40th anniversary. My games group SF Games is 18 years old and continues to bring people together. My mom was an extremely important influence on my life. JOYCE: Too bad you choose to mock me about my love for my family. I hope that you can get some love into your life.

  14. The bruising from the punch has resolved! Also, to clarify:

    1. I’ve certainly thrown tantrums, however, none was thrown in this case. David Kaye, your opinion is amusing (and did not induce a tantrum!). Perhaps it’s just in my Canadian nature to have a high bar for society!
    2. I’m not “white”, actually. An interesting presumption.
    3. I didn’t call for a boycott.
    4. Even if a boycott did occur, it would be acutely symbolic at best, and I highly doubt that it would grossly effect their bottom line. My intent is not to put a store out of business. However, simply out of principle, we are choosing to spend our change at another store.
    5. The female clerk didn’t look scared, she looked disinterested.

    As suggested, we are moving on with our lives! Indeed, the day after this incident, I was almost hit with the guard rail that came down from Hwy 101 when that big-rig crashed into it, and was left dangling over the 101 below! What a fantastic week! Luckily life is good again. My husband was threatening to bubble-wrap me and put me in the closet. Sincere thanks to most of you for your kind thoughts and consideration. Cheers to Bernalwood, as always, to host such a forum.

    • THE DAY you move on with your life is the day you stop posting about this incident. I have a feeling you’re going to try to milk this incident for all you can get. Again, your ego was brulsed more than your body, else you would have talked about wanting to call for an ambulance, or at least asked the grocer for a Band Aid.

      • Hi again David! You’re such a sad sad person. I think most of you find you entertaining. And I really do say that with a smile! I hope you find a friend someday! Cheers!

      • Joyce: Sorry to hear. Terrible stuff!

        David K.: How can anyone say it’s “OK” to hit someone else? Regardless of the motive or the actual “damage” caused (and whether someone drew blood or had to receive first aid, band-aids, etc.) your attitude is THE problem. I don’t care about your family situation or what you choose to comment about. Your utter lack of simple empathy is troubling. “Get on with your life” is what you say to someone who’s been assaulted? Really?! And you claim to be some sort of activist who’s gone through tough times yourself? Maybe you get on with your life and stop trying to defend what are clearly unfriendly, un-neighborly, whoa-is-me attitudes that add to the problem. In my opinion, people with reactions like yours are no different than the so-called “indifferent”, “wealthy” and “community detached” folks that board the Google / Yahoo / Facebook techno-buses to the Peninsula each day that everyone likes to throw under the bus (pardon the pun). Some people say those folks are a problem because they’re not part of the community. Well if you ignore what happened to your neighbor, telling her to “get on with her life” and accuse her of “milking the incident” because “she didn’t even need first aid”, that’s a MUCH bigger problem and not something that should be part of a community either.

      • Looks like someone needs a new hobby. Oh yeah—accordion. Looks like you’re all set with that. Have a lovely day, good sir.

      • Your bullying tactics don’t affect me in the least. I know you’re trying to make fun of me, but the joke is on you.

        I happen to EARN money playing my button accordion for rich people’s parties and corporate gigs as Oracle, Apple, a Good Vibrations Christmas party, the DNA Lounge, etc. It began when I was laid off my software job when they contracted with a company in India to take my place. I’d always wanted to be a street musician, and luckily, enough people liked what I did that I could actually support myself for 2 years playing the farmers’ markets and private parties. For the record, I also play bluegrass violin and some jazz clarinet.

        The photo that accompanies my name is from a street festival where I was paid good money to stroll around and create atmosphere.

      • Bullying. Right. Exactly. There’s a word …”sarcasm”.

        It would be hard to care less about how someone with your attitude makes a living. You go have a nice time now why dontcha’.

      • I don’t use sarcasm. You might try this yourself. About 20 years ago I eliminated sarcasm from my life when my then best friend told me that he’d no longer talk to me if I kept making sarcastic remarks. Then and there I totally stopped. I didn’t want to lose my best friend.

        What it did was give me a totally sunny outlook on life. No lie. It’s definitely a case of cause/effect. I awake refreshed, looking forward to the day instead of cranky and crabby. I see the good things in life instead of the problems I can’t do anything about. While sure, I joke — I make all kinds of jokes — none of them involve sarcasm or irony. I even go so far as to not flip words into cheap sarcastic jokes. None of that.

        Today, people confide in me, take me into the closest confidences, because they know I won’t make fun of them or make light of their situation.

        It’s a good way to live.

  15. and with that tidy response, she shut you all up! Joyce, you need a massage and a cocktail. Rotten week indeed…..

    • Hear, hear. Can’t figure out where David’s hostility comes from, but I’m never going to respond to one of his comments, or ever read one again, if I can help it.

      • You’re mistaking a disagreement of opinion with hostility. I happen to come in on the side of the yellow school bus guy (ban no vehicles or ban them all is my philosophy here), and I come in on the side of the grocer in the assault case. Truth be told, I’m also coming in on the side of the police in the Santa Rosa shooting, should you want to open any more worm cans…

  16. Joyce –
    First of all, no one deserves to be punched, white, black, brown…or Canadian (ok that wasn’t funny). You know I really am sorry to hear you were assaulted, but I’m glad to hear you have some neighbors here who support you, with some helpful comments. I would definitely go talk to the owner. When clerks are making customers leave their business, I would think they’d want to know for sure, especially from a regular customer.

    And wow, David Kaye what a mean thing to say, you don’t know Joyce and to make outlandish assumptions about her behavior like that, tisk tisk. She was assaulted, by a stranger, and you try and shame her reaction, that’s just terrible. If you did know her you would NEVER disrespect her the way you did. She deserves an apology from her assailant and now YOU!

    • She DID NOT SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION. She didn’t ask for an ambulance. She didn’t even ask the grocer for a Band Aid. Again, her ego was bruised more than her body.

      • I’m going to put my ego aside (it’s so big, I’ll have to find a place to put it….hold on)….and say you’re totally right. In fact, I bet you that you’re probably always right! Have a great day!

      • I did not think that you could write a stupider comment than your first one, but cheers to you for pulling it off! Sheesh, everyone knows that if you dont ask for medical help then you aren’t hurt at all.

  17. David Kaye, do you always have to have the last word? Don’t answer !!!
    SHUT THE HELL UP!!! Your negativity is killing this town!

      • No, I’m not unhappy at all. Yesterday we put on a Halloween event for 1,000 kids in the city of Richmond, giving out toys instead of candy, and we had karaoke, ring tosses, temporary tattoos, button making, etc. For many of these kids this event is the highlight of their year! It was a long day and night putting on this event, but it’s really worth it, seeing the kids’ eyes light up when they get something even as simple as finger paints or a slide whistle or a plush animal….

    • Which, my accordion music? Heck, I put on a weekly live music show at the Atlas Cafe (PLUG: Tonight is the KDM New York post-bop jazz group at 7:30, free), but I’d never book myself for such an event. I have no idea why people would pay me for 2 or 3 hours to play music on an accordion, but they do. Myself, I wouldn’t stand for it.

  18. I wonder if the storekeepers at La Loma didn’t want to get involved because they were afraid of a reprisal from the mentally ill man or his family if they assisted Joyce. Maybe they fear the police and do not want to involve them if they can possibly help it. Commenters here are so judgy and in such a rush to condemn others without knowing anything about them.

    • Exactly. People are quick to judge the grocery store owners as villains, when I don’t see that as necessarily the case. As retailers, they’ve probably had to deal with the police a lot over various issues, and were likely saving a call to 911 for more important things. The more a particular person calls 911 the more reluctant the police will be to respond in a timely manner. It’s a matter of distributing limited police personpower and it’s also a matter of human nature.

      The victim was apparently able-bodied enough that the grocer determined that calling 911 would only cause the SFPD to think that this was another nuisance call. A lot of these nuisance calls are “GOA” or “gone on arrival” by the police, making them less willing to come out later.

      Again, her ego was hurt worse than her body, so she should just LET IT GO! Jeezzz…

  19. There are so many wisely considered comments here. There are also some rash emotional comments (I am prone to them myself). And then there is David Kaye, a man who does not live in this neighborhood but yet feels empowered (an important verb here) to comment on everybody else’s life. I have only followed this thread a few times but find dispite the best efforts of reasoned souls to debate the relative merits of various situations, you can always rely on David Kaye to chime in with the lowest, most inane and most insulting response. Apart from the entertainment aspect, which fades fast, his comments are useless. Ignore him. That’s not an order, just a suggestion

    • Whether I live in Bernal is immaterial. I spent nearly 10 years living in Bernal. My friend Elaine did the new mural on the front of the library. My friend Mike works at Progressive Grounds. I have a lot of computer tech support customers all over Bernal, so I’m in the neighborhood often. So, I’m as much Bernal as anyone else is.

  20. The only times Canadians should be punched is on the ice AND only after saying yes to “you wanna go?” Glad Joyce wasn’t hurt too badly, stay strong my Bernal sister…

  21. As someone who was randomly accosted today at Mission & 30th by an irrational and furious grey-haired woman (either mentally ill or on drugs, judging by her nonsensical rants) who physically would not let me walk away and kept acting like she was going to punch me, i can attest that it is rattling & rather scary to have a stranger suddenly out of nowhere threaten and harass you, much less punch you, so:
    1) F-k you to the ass above with no sympathy for an innocent person randomly getting punched. Being scared or feeling unsafe is not Ego.
    2) On a more constructive note, what are best practices for defense and diffusing a situation when a crazed person suddenly targets you on the street? Any advice from those who work with addicts or the mentally ill? I’d love to know how to handle this situation better next time.
    3) *Thank You* to those who offered help today: a kind couple in a car who offered me a lift, and a woman who offered to escort me when i left (i finally managed to get away from the wannabe attacker & inside the gas station). The attendant was sympathetic but hadn’t seen it happen. I didn’t take them up on their offers, but really appreciated them. These folks realized that i had just been in a scary, threatening situation that made me feel very vulnerable and unsafe, and offered what help they could. I’m thankful that the crazed person didn’t have a weapon on her.

  22. OK, this guy David Kaye is – err – someone who doesn’t deserve a response from any of us. PS to the victim of this assault: I’d be willing to help is 1) you are pressing charges; or 2) if this assaultive albeit clearly disabled person is an ongoing threat of violence to others, I’d also work to get him placed where he might get some help, until he is no longer a danger to others – or likely to himself.

  23. La Loma Produce is dirty inside and out. The empolyees are rude and indifferent to customers.
    I’ve lived around the block for 27 years and have given this place plenty of chances to earn
    my business. No way am I ever stepping into La Loma Produce again.

  24. Instead of venting on this blog, you should seek a counselor as this is probably one of the worse things that has ever happened to you. After reading all of your comments, it is clear that you came to this site to simply seek sympathy. I feel sad that you can not open your mind to a different perspective. There was obviously a language barrier in this situation.
    Im very sorry you got punched but it is not fair that the store clerks didn’t get to say their side of the story. They probably have no idea that there are people talking about this situation against their business. The only reason I am at this blog is because I received The Park Bell newsletter for St. Mary’s and could not believe that they would allow someone to publish such a one sided story. Joyce you were too quick to judge the circumstances that took place that day you walked into the store. It is important as an individual to be able to be open minded and understand that there are other factors that could have caused the situation to seem as if the clerk at the store did not care about what had just happened to you. It is clear by your comments that it your ego that got bruised as you are unwilling to alter your perspective of the situation and come to the conclusion that there is a possibility that your hysteria after you got punched caused you to see the situation at hand in a different light. For future words of wisdom, before publishing something that could essentially ruin a small business that came about through a lot of hard work, you need to keep in mind outside factors of a situation and not be so narrow minded. Besides there is more to life than what happens through your eyes. Im sorry you had such an unsettling experience 😦 I hope your feeling better about the situation and wish you well.

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