SAN FRANCISCO -- Police in San Francisco 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 late Wednesday released a still photo from surveillance video of a man they described as a person of interest and asked anyone with information to contact authorities.
The man, who hasn't been identified, is thought to be the person who shot a 27-year-old man to death and wounded a 70-year-old man as the train departed the Forest Hill station, police said.
The San Francisco Medical Examiner on Thursday identified the victim who died as Nesta Bowen. The office said it did not know where Bowen lived.
The person wounded by gunfire 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 and a “heated verbal argument” between the suspect and Bowen. She said the suspect ran out 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 does not appear that this was random,” he said. “It was not someone who, you know, got on the train and just started shooting, which would have been even more horrible. This was horrible enough.”
While authorities said the shooting was not connected to upcoming Pride events, the death cast a glum start to the 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 ran out is at the heart of San Francisco’s famous Castro neighborhood, which is internationally known for its LGBTQ activism.
“There have been horrible incidents around the country and even in the Bay Area. So people are nervous, and I’m sure this doesn’t help. People should be alert,” said Mandelman.
The shooting is believed to have been the first ever on a train with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency — also known as Muni. The agency operates most public transit in the city, including trains, buses, streetcars and San Francisco’s iconic cable cars.
“The incident that took place this morning is unnerving and yet another reason why we need to do more to prevent gun violence,” Melgar said in a statement. “There are too many guns out in our society, escalating a verbal argument into a senseless death of a young life.”
Erica Kato, a spokesperson for the transit agency, said she did not know how many passengers were on board but noted that overall ridership is about half of what it was before the pandemic. She said ridership to San Francisco’s downtown core is even less.
The shooting comes just four days before San Francisco’s Pride parade, which typically draws thousands of people from around the world.
Still, sidewalk traffic was light Wednesday morning.
“Never heard of anything like this over here,” said Deeno Nasher, manager of the Castro Smoke House. “It’s kind of concerning for this neighborhood because Pride is this weekend and they try to be safe and secure as possible, and for something like this to happen, kind of puts them on edge.”
San Francisco police spokeswoman Officer Kathryn Winters said all Muni trains and subway stations have cameras, and police were reviewing the footage.