'Very Lucky': San Francisco Police Officer Survives Gunshot Wound to Head

A man suspected of opening fire at a San Francisco police officer, who a department spokesman deemed "very, very lucky" to survive, was taken into custody on Friday night.

Officers responded to a report of a mentally disturbed person in front of a GameStop at Lakeshore Plaza around 8:15 p.m., officer Carlos Manfredi said. 

When they approached him, however, the suspect, who police did not know was armed, turned around and fired several times at the officers. A bullet hit one of the officers in the head, taking him down near Sloat Boulevard and Everglade Drive, Manfredi said. 

The wounded officer's partners began to run in the suspect's direction, only to realize that their colleague had been struck and was lying on the ground. They ran back to help the still unidentified officer, who was rushed to San Francisco General Hospital.

Witnesses recalled hearing three shots and said the officer appeared alert as emergency responders treated him. Police said the officer is in critical but stable condition.

"We are very fortunate" that he did not suffer life-threatening injuries, Manfredi said. "Half an inch closer and we would be telling a different story right now."

Meanwhile, police called for citywide assistance and launched a massive manhunt to find and apprehend the suspect, who had run into and taken cover in Stern Grove park. 

Officers circulated a surveillance photo of the man, who they said was in his late 20s, had curly hair and was dressed in a gray hoodie. 

San Francisco police and California Highway Patrol officers closed the park and set up a perimeter when the suspect popped out of bushes and fled on foot. Officers shot at him, said Manfredi, who could not confirm how many rounds had been fired. 

The suspect fell onto the ground but continued to move. His handgun was "present" and being held "close to his chest," Manfredi said.

Police tweeted at about 9:30 p.m. that they "had the suspect contained" and had used a flash bang in an attempt to detain him.

They followed that with a tweet around 9:45 p.m. saying the suspect had been taken into custody by a SWAT team. 

The man refused all commands to give up his weapon and surrender peacefully so police officers were forced to use a distraction tactic to "get close to the suspect and make the arrest and gain compliance," according to Manfredi.

The suspect, who was reportedly detained near 28th Avenue and Vicente Street, was rushed to San Francisco General Hospital, which was briefly placed on lock down Friday night. Police did not confirm what condition he was in.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee was also at the hospital to visit the officer who was shot.

"He was able to speak to me," Lee said. "In fact he was calling me 'Mr. Mayor' and I told him, 'You just got shot, son. You don’t have to have that kind of respect for me.' But he was alert and he knew what happened."

The officer was taken into the Intensive Care Unit, said Lee, without commenting further on his condition. 

"I just wanted to be there and thank him for being on the spot and trying to stop the suspect," he said. 

Lee said he was accompanied by police commissioners, who, like him, are solely focused on helping the officer get back on his feet.

"I want him to really recover from this," Lee said, acknowledging that the officer can avail of top-notch medical treatment at San Francisco General Hospital.

"I have very great hope," he said.

Streets in the Sunset and Taraval districts were closed during the shooting and ensuing manhunt, snarling traffic. Police also urged residents to shelter in place.

An investigation is ongoing.

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