Officials Seek to Reassure Residents After Homicide Victim Found on Bernal Hill

There was a capacity crowd at last night’s community meeting to discuss the grim discovery of San Francisco resident Giovanny Alvarez’s body on Bernal Hill in the early hours of May 25. Several local TV stations were on hand at the meeting too, along with Neighbor Sarah who she shared these useful notes about what transpired:

First speaker: D9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen
Ronen invited Giovanny Alvarez’s family to attend. Police don’t believe it was a random incident; the Bernal community is not in danger. Police are investigating and are therefore able to provide only limited info.

Second speaker: Katherine Alvarez – sister of the homicide victim
She seeks justice for brother, family, and community. They don’t think anyone is safe while killer is still on the loose. If anyone has any information, please contact police or family. She handed out a flyer with more information and contact details.

Third speaker: SFPD Captain Joseph McFadden from Ingleside Station
Emphasized that people should call with any info from May 24-May 25. Can’t say much because of ongoing investigation. He has doubled patrols on Bernal Hill.

Questions from the community:

Q: Did cameras catch anything? Should we have emergency call boxes on the hill?
A: McFadden would love more cameras. Solar-powered camera on hill has been checked. Encourages everyone on side streets to look at their private-camera footage for May 24/25, especially on streets leading up to the hill. Report anything you notice. Call 404-4000 (Ingleside station) or

Q: Is there any increase in criminal activity on the hill?
A: No, it had been quiet before this (at least in terms of violent crime).

Q: Neighbor who lives across from park says activity like drinking, graffiti, etc. has increased in the last 3 years.
A: SFPD has created a fixed post on the hill now on “fat nights” (when station has max staffing) – a car sits up there to prevent criminal activity of all sorts.

Q: How can you convince us we are safe?
A: Stepped up patrols and undercover. Supervisor Ronen added that the crime was very likely NOT random and that it is safe for joggers, dogwalkers, etc. Alvarez family disagreed and said no one is safe.

Q: Another neighbor who lives on the hill observed that when the temperature climbs above 60, get groups drinking.
A: Police aware of this as well.

Q: Is the (legal) overnight parking on Bernal Hill contributing to late-night criminal activity?
A: Not related to this particular crime; link up with Supervisor Ronen’s staff to discuss issue separately.

Fourth speaker: Arturo Carrillo, Street Violence Intervention Program (SVIP)
The Street Violence Intervention Program (SVIP) is run out of the mayor’s office to prevent retaliation. She is advocating for resources for both SFPD and SVIP this budget season. SVIP works one-on-one with at-risk youth in community to prevent gang activity, retaliation after violent incidents, etc.

Also have a street violence response team that meets every Wednesday, with key stakeholders (DA, SF General, probation, etc) on helping victims and families and preventing retaliatory actions. Promote conflict mediation. Also distribute meals into public housing.

Q: Should we call SVIP instead of SFPD (to avoid unnecessary contact between youth and police and/or violent confrontations)?
A: Yes, you can do that. SVIP usually works 11am-8pm M-F + weekend hours. They do have a crisis response team as well. Arturo: 415-652-3924,

Other info:
Carolina Morales is the staff member for Sup. Ronen who focuses on public safety.

The DA’s office maintains a registry of private (home/business) cameras to use when they seek footage related to crimes. You can register your camera here.

Bernalwood would like to extend special thanks to Neighbor Sarah for sharing her notes.

PHOTO: Sup. Hillary Ronen and Capt. Joseph McFadden at the May 31 community meeting. Photo courtesy of Neighbor Sarah

“Devastated” Family of Bernal Homicide Victim Seeks Witnesses, Answers

Giovanny Alvarez, shown in a family photo with two of his children

There’s a community meeting scheduled for tomorrow night, Wed., May 31, at 6 pm at the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center (515 Cortland) to discuss the homicide that took place last week, when the body of a man who had been fatally stabbed was found on the south side of Bernal Hill in the early hours of the morning on May 25.  Capt. Joseph McFaden from SFPD’s Ingleside Station and D9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen will be in attendance.

The Medical Examiner’s Office has identified the victim as Giovanny Alvarez, 33, a San Francisco resident.

According to Giovanny Alvarez’s family, the victim was a family man and the father of four children. He grew up on Moultrie Street in Bernal Heights and attended Leonard Flynn Elementary School next to Precita Park before moving to The Bayview.

“We’re devastated. We’re also frustrated,” Alvarez’s sister told Bernalwood. “We’re desperate to know what happened.”

“He was a normal person who liked going out with friends, but we don’t know what happened or who he was with,” she said. “Our family is looking for justice, not only for us, but for our whole community. We don’t feel safe knowing there is a killer walking the streets. We don’t want this case to be just another murder that goes unsolved here in San Francisco.”

Alvarez’s family is looking for information from anyone who may have seen Giovanny on the night of May 24-25, or witnessed the crime. Please call the San Francisco Police Department Tip Line at (415) 575-4444. Tipsters may remain anonymous.

In addition, Alvarez’s family has set up a GoFundMe page to help defray costs associated with his burial.  They write:

Giovanny Alvarez a Beloved father, son, uncle and friend. He was loved by many, his laughter brightened our day and he didn’t deserve to die like he did. He was passionate, artistic, and funny. People took him away from us too soon, he was too young. He was murdered on May 25th , 2017 and left to die in our local park In San Francisco. The police is investigating and trying to get justice for our beloved Gio. If you have any information regarding this monstrous crime please contact the police as soon as possible. Please help and share so we can properly bury him how he deserved and wanted. Keep us in your prayers and thank you so much.

En español

Giovanny Alvarez un Querido padre, hijo, tío y amigo. Él fue amado por muchos, su risa iluminó nuestro día y no merecía morir como lo asecinaron. Él era apasionado, artístico, y divertido. Su vida fue arrebatada de el y nosotros tomó nosotros demasiado pronto, él era demasiado joven. Fue asesinado el 25 de mayo de 2017 y abandonado para morir en ub parque local en San Francisco. La policía está investigando y tratando de conseguir justicia para nuestro amado Giovanny. Si tiene una informacion de este monstroso crimer porfavor llamar a la policia. Por favor ayude y comparta para que podamos enterrarlo adecuadamente como se merecía y quería.Manténgannos en sus oraciones y muchas gracias.

Body of Fatally Stabbed Man Found on Bernal Hill

Bernal Hill is closed this morning as the SFPD investigates an apparent homicide.

According to media reports from ABC7,  The Examiner, and SFGate, the body of a man who had been fatally stabbed was found on  Bernal Hill at about 5:30 this morning. The body was discovered on the south side of Bernal Hill, just inside the Anderson Street gate.

SFGate reports:

A person taking a stroll in the park discovered the body and called police about 5:30 a.m., said Sgt. Michael Andraychak of the San Francisco Police Department.

“Officers responded and found a male victim. He was suffering from apparent stab wounds,” Andraychak said.

Paramedics went to the scene and declared the victim dead.

Bernalwood has been in contact with the neighbor who first discovered the body. He says:

The body was found at around 5:15am this morning at Bernal Park, on Bernal Hts Blvd where the path to Bocana starts. Grossly mutilated body with stab wounds. It was gruesome. No witnesses.

There has been a lot of crime, often violent recently on Bernal Hill. It’s about time we disallow overnight parking from 2am to 6am between Anderson to Carver. Since the city has banned overnight parking in other parts of The City, much of it now comes to Bernal. People sleeping in cars, illegal dumping, prostitution. I’ve seen it all.

Video footage captured by NBC Bay Area appears to show a camouflaged knife sheath found on the scene:

The Examiner adds:

Anyone with information is asked to call the San Francisco Police Department Tip Line at (415) 575-4444 or Text a Tip to TIP411 and begin the message with SFPD. Tipsters may remain anonymous.

Bernalwood will update this story as additional details become available.

UPDATE, 10:30 am: D9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen will hold a community meeting on Wednesday, May 31 at the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center at 6 pm to discuss this incident. Ronen says:

Early this morning a man who had been stabbed to death was found by a jogger in Bernal Heights Park. While little information is known at this time, the police do not believe the killing was random. Extra patrols will be in and around the park. Captain McFadden and I will be hosting a community meeting on Wednesday May 31st at 6:00 pm at the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center on Cortland to discuss what is known about this tragic murder and public safety concerns in the community.

PHOTO: Top, The crime scene on Bernal Hill this morning. Photo via Amy Hollyfield of ABC7 News.

UPDATED: 95 Year-Old Woman Assaulted by Tent-Dweller at Proposed Residential Shelter Site

A 95 year-old woman was assaulted Saturday morning by a man living in the tent encampment outside 1515 South Van Ness, the site of a proposed residential homeless facility.

The assault took place at approximately 9:30 am on Saturday morning. The victim is a 95 year-old woman who has been a Mission resident since the 1930s.  According to several sources familiar with the incident, the victim saw two people drinking at a tent on the corner of 26th Street and Shotwell, and chastised them for their insobriety. A verbal altercation ensued, and when the elderly woman reached for her phone to call the police, one of the tent-dwellers reportedly grabbed her arm and began twisting it.

Two bystanders who were walking near 26th and Shotwell witnessed the scene, and began yelling at the drunken man to release the elderly woman. The perpetrator tried to run away. One of the bystanders gave chase, catching the man on Horace Street and detaining him until police arrived.

Meanwhile, the other bystander stayed with the elderly woman and escorted her home to her family. Police soon arrived, along with an ambulance, and the victim was transported to St. Luke’s Hospital. Along the way, the victim reportedly drove by the incident scene to positively identify the man who had assaulted her. The two bystanders who intervened to help the victim also served as witnesses in the police report. At St. Luke’s, the victim was treated for bruises and sprained arm.

The victim’s family says they intend to press charges against the perpetrator.

“It’s really scary when I think what could have happened if not for those two witnesses,” said the victim’s daughter, who lives near the incident scene.

“They don’t allow alcohol or drugs inside Navigation Centers [like the one proposed at 1515 South Van Ness], so we’ll have more of this happening on the sidewalks,” she said. “To have this happen now is very distressing.”

According to several sources familiar with the incident, an officer on the scene reportedly said the perpetrator would likely be released from police custody within 24 hours. Bernalwood contacted Capt. Bill Griffin from Mission Station for an update on the case over the weekend, but we have not yet received a response.

This story will be updated as additional information becomes available.

UPDATE: May 9: Reporter Filipa Ioannou from the San Francisco Chronicle spoke with the SFPD about the incident:

The woman got into an argument around 9:30 a.m. Saturday with two people that escalated into an assault when a man grabbed and twisted her arm near the intersection of 26th and Shotwell streets, according to the San Francisco Police Department.

The woman was not seriously injured, but was taken to a hospital for treatment partially because of her advanced age, according to Officer Robert Rueca, a spokesman for the San Francisco Police Department.

A man suspected in the assault was arrested, but his name was not immediately released.

That said, the Chronicle misstates the victim’s age. Her family confirms that she is 95, and not 92, as reported in the Chronicle.

PHOTO: Encampment at the incident scene, 1515 South Van Ness, Sunday, May 7, 2017, 5 pm, by Telstar Logistics


A Letter to Whomever Broke Into This Car Last Week

Last week, after Neighbor Jes parked just south of Cortland Avenue, someone broke in to her car.. There was nothing inside the car worth stealing, so Neighbor Jes wrote this letter to the would-be thief:

To whomever broke into my car Tuesday evening,

Well it’s obvious why you chose my car. Two-toned duck-tape holding up my passenger side mirror, on an old beat-up 2003 Nissan. Absolutely nothing inside but a few cassette tapes which you rummaged through and didn’t seem to appreciate. You stole nothing, but you left me a new umbrella. Thanks kindly.

Neighbors beware. My car was parked on Anderson near jarboe. Looks like the perpetrators were looking for money, any technology, &/or a garage door opener.

Neighbor Jes

PHOTO: Car after the break-in, courtesy of Neighbor Jes

Woman Attacks 14 Year-Old Student at Paul Revere School

From SFGate:

A girl was taken to a hospital after a 30-year-old woman came to her school and punched her, police said Monday.

The woman showed up at the 14-year-old girl’s Bernal Heights school at 11 a.m. on Friday and began arguing with her before the altercation turned physical, according to the San Francisco Police Department.

The woman then allegedly pushed the girl to the ground and punched her. The altercation was broken up by school staff and the woman fled in an unknown direction, police said.

IMAGE: Paul Revere School, by Telstar Logistics

ALERT! Fabio the Gargoyle Guardian of Esmeralda Slide Park Is Missing

Alert! Alert! Alert! Fabio the Gargoyle has been plundered!

For many moons Fabio has stood watch over the wonderful Esmeralda Slide Park on the west slope of Bernal Heights. Yet now it seems some scoundrel has absconded with the pensive neighborhood sentinel.

Neighbor Michelle tells Bernalwood:

Some sad news to pass on. “Fabio”, the Esmeralda Slide Park gargoyle, has gone missing once again. In the past when this has happened in his previous home location, he would happily turned up in a variety of nearby locations. This time the thieves bent some re-bar to remove him and haul all 50+ pounds of gargoyle away. Asking Bernal neighbors to keep watch, and let us know if you spot him.

Please be on the lookout for Fabio, and contact Bernalwood if you see him.

PHOTO: Fabio the Gargoyle, keeping an eye on Esmeralda Slide Park before he disappeared

Bernal Neighbor Recovers Stolen Scooter From 101/Chavez Encampment


One Saturday night, someone stole Neighbor Tony’s scooter from outside his home on Precita Avenue.

On Sunday, another neighbor spotted his scooter inside the homeless encampment under the Cesar Chavez/101 interchange. Neighbor Tony tells Bernalwood what happened next:

A neighbor called, and said he saw my scooter under 101 bypass at Ceaser Chavez.

Sure enough it was there, sticking half way out of a tent. We called the police, but to be honest, no police came. So we waved down an officer on a dirt bike. He walked us in, and allowed us to get the bike back.

So let’s just say we stole it back, and they shouldn’t be back for awhile. That tent city probably holds a lot of people’s treasures.

PHOTO: Neighbor Tony walking his recovered scooter back home from the Chavez/101 encampment

Bernal Dwellings Residents Want More Police Patrols to Halt Gun Violence


As you may recall, SFPD’s Mission Station organized a community safety meeting last Wednesday in response to an ongoing series of gun-related incidents along the Cesar Chavez corridor that have been linked to the Bernal Dwellings affordable housing complex.

MissionLocal attended the meeting, and reporter Laura Waxman writes that Bernal Dwellings residents want more consistent police coverage:

While small in size, the four-block development is prone to violence, and residents there said that conditions have worsened, causing many to remain indoors for fear of being targeted.

“It’s very scary to live here right now because at any moment somebody can come by and start shooting or if they see somebody outside they see them as a target,” said Gina Guitron, Bernal Dwellings’ property manager who is also a resident there.

A January 26 shooting that injured a 52-year-old man while standing in front of a house at 26th Street and Treat Avenue and a 43-year-old man who was targeted moments later while walking in the area prompted Mission Station Police Captain Daniel Perea to call for the community meeting in an effort to discuss neighborhood safety.

On January 1, 21-year-old Ernesto Rosales was shot at 26th and Shotwell streets, marking the city’s first homicide of the year.

“When things happen, we have to step up our presence, we have officers going through here day and night to make sure that this area remains safe,” said Perea.

In response to the recent violence, Perea said that Mission station officers have been assigned swing shifts to extend patrol hours, and support from other units has been requested to ensure greater coverage of the area.

But some residents who attended the meeting said that they did not feel safe at all and that police’s response is too little and often comes too late.

Read the complete story at MissionLocal.

PHOTO:  Markers on the street indicate where gun casings were found after an October 2016 shooting at Precita Park that police linked to gang-related activity around Bernal Dwellings. Photo by Telstar Logistics

Thursday: SFPD Public Safety Meeting on Shootings Around Bernal Dwellings


The uptick in gun-related crime in the area around the Bernal Dwellings public housing complex on Cesar Chavez continues.

Most recently, there was a shooting at 10 pm on Thursday, Jan. 26 at 26th and Treat that left two men injured, as well as a barrage of gunfire at 26th and South Van Ness at 9:30 pm last Friday, Jan. 27.

In response, Captain Dan Perea from the SFPD’s Mission Station will convene a public safety meeting on Thursday, Feb. 2 at 6 pm at the Garfield Square Park Clubhouse.

Capt. Perea writes:

I am writing to extend an invitation for a public safety meeting I am holding on Thursday, February 2nd, at 6pm. The meeting will be held at Garfield Park Clubhouse.

I have invited representatives from the Mayor’s Street Violence Intervention Program, Bernal dwellings management, SFPD Gang Task Force, Mission Station Housing Team and the District Attorney’s Office.

The purpose of the meeting is to discuss recent violence and the response we are engaged in to prevent further occurrences.

I recognize this is not a great deal of notice. However, I want everyone in the community to know we are working on this issue to keep everyone safe and have an opportunity to ask questions at a meeting held to discuss this specific issue.

Thank you

Captain Dan Perea
Commanding Officer
Mission Station


PHOTO: SFPD responding to a shooting in Precita Park in October, 2016, by Telstar Logistics

Two Violent Crimes Plague Precita Avenue Over the Weekend


Neighbors living near Precita Park are concerned about two violent crimes that took place in the area over the weekend.

Late Saturday night, a neighbor witnessed an assault in Precita Park, as a man on a bike attacked a man walking near the west end of the park. The witness says the victim was apparently beaten to the point of near-uncsciousness.

Then, on Sunday night, Precita Avenue was blocked off west of Shotwell, as SFPD investigated a stabbing that occurred on the steps into the big parking lot along the 100 block of Precita.

Bernalwood reached out to Captain McFadden from SFPD Ingleside this morning for comment. He said both of the weekend incidents are likely connected to the recent wave of gang-related crime. Capt. McFadden told Bernalwood:

All are related to the same gang activity of a few individuals. The [stabbing] victim will be ok. The Gang Task Force is handling the investigation, and hopes to make arrests in the case soon, which should stop the activity completely.

PHOTO: SFPD investigating the scene of the stabbing on the 100 block of Precita Avenue, December 4, 2016, by Telstar Logistics

Wednesday: Follow-Up Meeting About Gang Violence Near North Bernal


On Wednesday evening, Nov. 30, there will be a follow-up to the  October community meeting about the recent wave of gang violence centered around the Bernal Dwellings housing development — a wave that most recently included a Nov. 14 shooting on Harrison near Cesar Chavez.

The Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center’s meeting announcement says:

Come Join Us for an SFPD Update on Violent Crime in and near Bernal

The Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center and neighbors have organized a follow-up meeting to receive updates on the Precita Park and Bernal Dwellings area shootings, including the November 14 incident.

SFPD’s Gang Task Force members, along with Ingleside Station and Mission Station representatives, will be in attendance.

>> To help keep the meeting to an hour, please submit questions in advance to

Date: Wednesday, 11/30/2016
Time: 7 to 8 pm
Location: Leonard Flynn Elementary
Harrison @ Cesar Chavez (cafeteria)
(Please enter from Harrison side of school through schoolyard).

PHOTO: Police on the scene of a gang-related shooting at Precita Park, October 8, 2016. By Telstar Logistics

Your Bernal Heights Crime Summary for November 2016: Beware Holiday Parcel Grinches!


Neighbor Sarah, your valiant volunteer Bernal Heights crime correspondent, attended the SFPD Ingleside Community meeting this month, and she filed these summary notes on the latest Bernal Heights crime trends. Read on, read carefully, mind your holiday parcels, and stay safe:

Notes from Ingleside Station Community Police Advisory Board Meeting
November 14, 2016

  • There’s been an uptick in robberies on the Mission corridor from Geneva up to Silver. Had been down the past ~7 months or so.
  • Recent shooting on 26th/Harrison (11/14) was related to ongoing gang problems. The MS-13 gang has been hooking up with Surenos to go against Nortenos. Primarily 15-18-year-olds. New SFPD unit, separate from Gang Task Force, is working on this, and it’srun out of Narcotics. Focused on Bayview, Ingleside, and Mission. Two Ingleside undercover officers now in that unit. NOTE: The Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center has organized a meeting about this on 11/30 at 7pm at the Flynn Elementary cafeteria; email James Moore at for more information.
  • Holiday season approaching, so package thieves are back in action. Have packages sent to your office or a business that will hold shipments. Or arrange with your neighbors to pick up each other’s packages and leave notes when you do.
  • New Police Academy class graduating in two weeks, then another two weeks after that. Ingleside has received 7 new recruiters who are now doing their training at the station.
  • New SFPD Chief selection is  waiting on mayor’s decision. Should be fairly soon.
  • Ingleside Station lost its permits office,  Rob Rueca – he is now in the public information office of SFPD.
  • New homeless outreach officers are Rich Curry and Chad Campos.
  • Proposition 64 (statewide marijuana legalization) should make no real difference locally, since SFPD has not been focusing on marijuana citations. You can carry up to 2 oz and grow 6 plants per adult. Still cannot smoke it in places where you can’t smoke cigarettes. Neither drivers NOR passengers are allowed to be smoking pot. Cannabis task force working on new rules.
  • Email the captain ( with problematic intersections where SFPD should do traffic enforcement.
  • Bridge is taking over management of the Alemany housing project and starting work; also, fences going up, cameras being added.
  • No community meeting in December. January meeting will be 1/17/16 at the Visitacion Valley Boys and Girls Clubs at 7pm.