Search for Rampaging Driver Who Struck Four Cyclists in Mission, Potrero

Bicycle_rampage_photo_small.jpgPhoto: Troy Holden. H/T SFist.

San Francisco police are still searching for the driver of a Nissan Rogue who ran down four cyclists last night over the course of several minutes, before crashing his vehicle into a pole and fleeing on foot.

The SFPD could only describe the driver as a white male of unknown age. Police received reports of a suspect hitting the first cyclist, identified only as a 39-year-old white male, at 9:43 pm in the 2700 block of Harrison Street (between 23rd and 24th Streets). The driver then ran down the next cyclist, a 40-year-old Hispanic male, in the 2800 block of Harrison Street (between 24th and 25th Streets), then a 33-year-old Asian male at the intersection of 23rd and Pennsylvania Streets, and finally, at 9:49 pm a 25-year-old white male at 17th and Missouri Streets.

One of the victims hit his head and was knocked unconscious, another broke a leg. Three of the victims were transported to San Francisco General Hospital, while the fourth refused treatment at the scene. Police said none of the victims suffered "life-threatening injuries" but KCBS reported three victims were still hospitalized, one in critical condition. 

"He (the driver) changed lanes in traffic, he went on the wrong side of the street," SFPD spokesperson Lt. Lyn Tomioka told the Bay City News. "Witnesses said he was driving to try and hit the bicyclists."

The suspect was lost in the area last night, but inspectors have been searching for him since, according to the SFPD. An update is expected later this morning.

UPDATE: 11:00 am

While SFPD has no news to report on the search for the driver, San Francisco General Hospital spokesperson Rachel Kagen told Streetsblog one of the cyclists is in critical condition, one is in serious condition and one is in fair condition. None of the cyclists has granted permission to SF General to give out any more information to media. We’ll give you further information as it comes in.

  • Brian

    Four counts of attempted murder. And there are reports this morning that the driver left his wallet and ID in the vehicle.

    Homicidal and stupid.

    Have a nice lifetime in prison, you idiot.

    Sadly, there are some people at SF Gate who see this person as a model motorist.

  • I knew I shouldn’t of went over to SF Gate, but curiosity got the best of me. Pure vile and hatred. Makes you nervous to be on the road. Openly promoting violence and upset this act wasn’t done during Critical Mass. Wow.

    I really hope all 4 make full recoveries. A lot of us weren’t too far off from this area last night with many leaving around this time. Be safe out there!

  • marcos

    Like a jury comprised of motorists is going to convict on the greater included charges!

  • Funny how the people immediately bring up the usual bike v.s. vehicle conflict in comments just because it involves cyclists. This is obviously a case of a person willfully assault other people on the road, probably have something to do with that person’s mental health. And yet people immediate apply the bike v.s. vehicle framing into this situation.

  • JohnB

    WYT,

    Yes, it is too soon to jump to conclusions here.

    Remember that wayward driver a couple of years back who hit a few pedestrians on Bush (or Pine, can’t recall?)

    He was an equal out-of-control nutjob but there was never any finding that he was targeting pedestrians specifically.

    If you drive like an idiot then the chances are that those who suffer most will be pedestrians and cyclists since they enjoy the least protection. That doesn’t imply a conspiracy.

    But it is all part of why my family will not cycle in SF outside of GG Park.

  • Best wishes to the victims.. so, what can we do to prevent such cases from happening in the future?

    Tighter restrictions and examinations on who we give driver’s licenses to?

    Also, driver’s will/mental health aside, this would’ve been physically more difficult to do in a Danish city where seemingly most streets have grade-separated bike ways, often additionally lined with trees, grass, and/or parking as a barrier. It’s nice knowing you have a better chance even if someone intended to hurt you.

  • JohnB – I’m pretty sure WYT remembers that incident given he posted a link to a storey about that incident….

    This driver went across 2 lanes of auto traffic on Harrison to clip 2 riders in the bike lane on the opposite side of the road, by the way…

  • Seal

    They have the vehicle. I assume the SFPD can look up his vehicle registration information (though even that may be beyond their capabilities). Has anyone tried to check on his house?

    I don’t know why he ran. Doesn’t he know that our fearless DA Kamala “Cantprosecute” Harris will have the charges reduced to misdemeanors, and he could get off with 6 hours “community service” (which can include watching a “Planet Earth” on TV)?

  • A minority of comments at SFGate do celebrate violence against cyclists.

    But (1) those comments tend to get bad user ratings, and (2) other comments by the same people tend to show that they hate a number of other groups (besides cyclists) equally or even more: illegal immigrants (especially!), dirty hippies, women with hairy legs, other women, and people from Oakland. So on balance, no one needs to be too impressed with anything they say.

  • @peternatural, good point! I wish there is a system to label those commenters ‘haters’ :-O

  • JohnB

    JohnM

    Yes, that was the story I referred to.

    And like I said, chances are a nutjob like this targets any easy target whether cyclist, pedestrian or whatever.

    That doesn’t mean this was a hate crime against cyclists. Cowards always choose the most vulnerable to project violence onto.

    Let’s at least wait for the investigation, right?

  • @paternatural, agreed but only takes one crazy as is evidence last night. And giving those people a forum to spew their hate isn’t doing anyone any favors.

  • v1talyg

    I’m a cyclist, but also a motorist. I, too, sometimes get angry at cyclists who don’t obey rules of the road (mostly because of how it reflects on the rest of us), or who cause me to be delayed or late. I certainly understand motorists’ frustrations. However, normal people don’t try to kill others as a way to deal with those frustrations, nor do they try to endanger others. So I simply can’t wrap my mind around how people can actually support this type of behavior, or what type of mindset it takes to rationalize it as an acceptable practice.

  • thealphabanana

    I don’t understand why they haven’t caught this guy yet! Did his license or registration not lead you to his residence? Why aren’t they releasing a photo?

  • Michael Baehr

    @thealphabanana: The news has already confirmed that it’s registered to someone in Berkeley, and not suspected to be stolen.

    However, the problem with assault-by-vehicle, which I experienced in my own hit-and-run collision in 2008, is that you can’t impugn a car; you can only impugn a driver, and proving in a criminal court who drove a car and hurt you while driving it requires a stricter standard than just who owns the car. The SFPD informed me quite plainly that the registered owner of the car is civilly liable for any damage, but determining criminal guilt requires actually proving that a particular person was driving.

  • “That doesn’t mean this was a hate crime against cyclists. Cowards always choose the most vulnerable to project violence onto.”

    Why do you bother to make this statement?

  • upset this act wasn’t done during Critical Mass.

    ??

  • Sean

    @Peter

    Presumably during Critical Mass the driver would have more “targets”.

  • Karen

    I’m going to assume that this guy just went mental and started trying to kill people with his car. That would mean that he probably wasn’t wearing gloves, and his fingerprints will therefore be on the steering wheel, car doors, dashboard, etc. I doubt it will be hard to prove he was driving — although proving he was legally sane will be a bit more difficult.

    Best of luck to the injured, and to the police and prosecutors trying to get this nutjob off the street.

  • v1talyg

    Michael B., I don’t know what your situation was (re hit and run), but if it was only property damage, I can understand, though not justify, police’s lack of interest to investigate who actually drove because if you know the car, you can get the insurance company of the registered owner to pay for your property damage. Here, however, as was pointed out above, this is a quadruple attempted murder, so I hope SFPD takes it a bit more seriously than a dented door.

    As far as the guy being insane. No one needs to prove him sane, only that he knew what he was doing was wrong. He ran, there’s your proof.

  • Michael Baehr

    @v1talyg: I was rear-ended by a speeding car, in the bike lane, at Market + Duboce. The SFPD ran the plates for me and determined that the car had no insurance, and basically instructed me to go ahead and sue the registered owner (a retiree living on SSI in Richmond, CA) if I wanted compensation for my medical bills ($8K+) and destroyed bicycle. They expressed next to no interest in pursuing a criminal case unless I could prove who was actually driving, which is difficult when you’ve been rear-ended and didn’t see the driver.

    I ended up just fighting with my insurer to pay the bill, which they finally did. That’s a whole ‘nother story. Single Payer now, please!

  • Brian

    Sentencing we, as a community, must demand for this criminal.

    California Felony Sentencing Schedule:

    664/190:
    Attempted murder, second degree = 9 years in prison.
    x 4 attempts = 36 years in prison

    Though it now looks from the update that one of the people is in critical condition, which means they may not pull through.

    That would increase the sentence significantly.

    We will demand justice for the victims of what may turn out to be a vehicular hate crime.

  • friscolex

    Violence is so, so sad.

  • Nick

    I hope anyone who had an incident with an SUV in the Mission last night (prior to the rampage) to jog their memory for details. It could have been one negative experience that pushed the driver over the edge. Read: “press charges for premeditated murder”.

    I’d also hope Streetsblog commentators would not rush to stereotype this driver as mentally ill. He could just be a very bad person. Most severely mentally ill people are harmless. Never mind the fact that they are probably not functional enough to afford a new car (2008 or later Nissan Rouge) in the first place so this automatically casts doubt on any insanity based defense.

  • Nick, being mentally ill has nothing to do with how functional you can be. To use hollywood examples, take the characters portrayed in “The Informant” and “A Beautiful Mind”. You can be crazy and still hold a high paying job. Of course, neither of these people were violent, but crazy comes in a whole range of illnesses, such as being bipolar.

  • HankCancel

    This is horrible!!! Regardless of how you feel about a group of people, you have no right to run them down with your car! He used his car as a weapon and should be charged with attempted murder. When he is found, an ‘Army of Cyclist’ will show up at the courthouse to demand justice!!! San Francisco must go full steam ahead with it’s plans for separated bikeways to keep cyclists safe from drivers…This is a backlash to the political power cyclists have earned in San Francisco…We need to be stronger…Join the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition…We are 11,000 strong and growing!!!

  • Looking beyond the tragedy of the situation, I can’t help but feel that events like this and the BP oil spill are becoming incidentally instrumental in awakening people to the realities of our society’s status quo, and the need for changes such as safer streets and reducing our dependence on oil… it’s just sad that this is the cost.

  • AZMike

    The *only* common link among this guy’s victims was the fact they were on bicycles. If the driver wanted to go after pedestrians or a specific ethnic group (he hit a Hispanic guy, an Asian guy, and a White guy) there is ample opportunity in the Bay Area just for that. If he wanted to kill large numbers of people, he could have got a gun like in the recent UK shootings (despite the UK’s and Cali’s high tolerance for gun control, it is possible.)

    But he didn’t do any of those things — he attacked bicyclists from his car. This has all the markings of an ideological attack on cyclists; the battle over the supposed superiority of the internal combustion engine. Maybe he spent too many hours listening to right-wing rabble rousing in his Rogue (the car reflects the driver, no?) — about how ‘unfair’ Obama is being to BP, how Ray LaHood is a turncoat and a traitor because he thinks all transportation is equal, Critical Mass should be shut down and bicyclists should get on the sidewalk, etc. etc. Bonus points if he’s an military vet and/or Tea Party member.