A San Francisco resident was robbed at gunpoint Tuesday night, January 29 as he entered the gate of his Castro district apartment building.
Peter Hartikka, 48, said he’d been walking home from the gym at about 9:50 p.m. and checking messages on his cellphone when he heard footsteps behind him.
When he entered the gate of his building, in the 4600 block of 18th Street, he turned around and noticed that another man was trying to follow him in.
The man demanded all of Hartikka’s money, he said. Hartikka tried to slam the gate shut on him, but the suspect forced his way in, told Hartikka he had a gun, and showed it to him.
“He didn’t really point it at me, but he had it in his hand the whole time and made it clear he was going to shoot me if I didn’t cooperate,” Hartikka said.
The suspect was soon joined by another man, and the two took Hartikka’s identification, phone, and messenger bag. The bag included his wallet and credit and debit cards. Hartikka said the men stole about $50 in cash altogether.
The suspects ran away and Hartikka called the police immediately. He was not injured in the incident, but said it was scary.
“It happened so fast I didn’t really know how to react,” he said, but “I didn’t think it was a good idea to yell and scream … the guy had a gun.”
Hartikka said the gun looked like a toy, but he said he doesn’t know much about guns, and “I didn’t want to take any chances.”
He added, “I never think of this part of the Castro as being particularly dangerous, but apparently it is.” Hartikka’s lived in his apartment, which is near Hattie Street, for about two years.
“I’m a little afraid to leave my house now, frankly,” he said.
The man with the gun is white, about 6 feet, and in his mid-20s, with an average to heavy build, a slight moustache and brown, medium-length hair, Hartikka said. He was wearing a flannel shirt or jacket with grey, brown, and other colors. Hartikka said he appeared “unkempt” and may be homeless.
The second man is white, approximately 5 feet 9 inches, and appeared to be about the same age or younger than the first suspect, with an average build, Hartikka said. He had lighter hair that was in a buzz cut.
Hartikka, a member of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, said the men “weren’t homophobic at all. They didn’t say, ‘Faggot this,’ or ‘Faggot that.’ … Not all violence is necessarily anti-gay. Some people are just thugs.”
Hartikka posted a note to Castro Community on Patrol’s Facebook page today (Wednesday, January 30). The volunteer patrol group was represented Monday, January 28 as police officials, neighborhood residents, and others met to discuss recent robberies, burglaries, and other crimes in the Castro.
Early Tuesday, another incident occurred in the neighborhood. At 12:45 a.m., according to police, a 25-year-old man was at 15th and Noe streets holding his cellphone when two men jumped him and took his phone. The suspects ran to a parked white four-door sedan, got in, and fled toward Market Street.
Police haven’t offered many details on the suspects except to say they were 20 to 25. A description of a third suspect wasn’t available. The victim wasn’t injured.
The robbery took place about a block away from a January 10 incident in which another man was stabbed in the chest. The 34-year-old victim in that case was hospitalized but has been released.
Police and community groups have released sketches of the suspects in the case. The images and descriptions are available at the Stop the Violence Facebook page.
Anyone with information regarding the January 29 incidents may call the San Francisco Police Department anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or text a tip to 847411 and type SFPD, then the message. The report number for the 18th Street robbery is 130 083 281. The number for the 15th and Noe streets incident is 130 080 776.
People with information in the January 10 robbery may contact Sergeant Tim Dalton at (415) 242-3000 or the SFPD Park Station anonymous tip line at (415) 731-2865. The report number is 130 027 552.