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SF Muni shooter killed knife-wielding attacker with ‘ghost gun’ he bought to defend himself against an ‘enemy,’ attorneys say

Javon Green with his daughter. Mr. Green has been accused of shooting and killing a man in self defense on a Muni train in San Francisco, Calif. on June 22, 2022. Courtesy Green family

Fear drove him to buy an illegal “ghost gun” after being shot at twice by a man he called his enemy, lawyers said. He ultimately used that weapon to fatally shoot a different man who attacked him on a Muni train.

Javon Green's attorney said Tuesday that Green, 26, used the gun to defend himself from the knife-wielding attacker who came after him on the train the morning of June 22. Though Green was booked two days later on murder in the shooting that killed 27-year-old Nesta Bowen and wounded a 70-year-old bystander, prosecutors declined to pursue the charge. 

Green was instead arraigned in San Francisco Superior Court Tuesday on two felonies: Possessing a concealed weapon and possessing a loaded weapon that has not been registered. 

Both prosecution and the defense characterized the shooting as self-defense. And both sides said Green was armed because of previous threats.  

Assistant District Attorney David Merin told the court that Green had an “enemy who has shot at him” and “that is the reason that he has to possess this firearm.” 

Green reported a shooting in September 2020, Merin said. Green’s lawyer, Randall Knox, said his client reported another incident in September the following year. 

Green even posted several videos on his Instagram account showing a pistol that prosecutors said was the same gun he used in last week’s Muni shooting. 

“I don’t play no games,” Green said in the video, which was played in court Tuesday and showed him lifting his shirt to reveal the gun in his waistband. 

Knox said the video was meant to warn Green’s unnamed “enemy.” But Merin argued that the clip showed that Green posed a threat to the public. 

Though Green had no criminal history before the train shooting and had a reason to own a gun and allegedly used that gun in self-defense on Muni, prosecutors asked the judge to order him jailed without bail.

“The defendant was still wildly, wildly dangerous,” Merin argued. “The defendant is a public safety risk. … He may well decide to arm himself again.” 

Police released a screenshot of video from a June 22, 2022 fatal shooting on Muni, but did not mention that video also showed the shooter, Javon Green, being attacked by the man he shot and killed. | SFPD

New Details Emerge

The arraignment, which Green attended, also revealed new details of what happened on the Muni train on the day of the shooting.

Video of the incident between West Portal and Castro stations showed Green sitting on the train when a man in a red coat, later identified as Bowen, walked up and started an argument. Both men then stood up and Bowen appeared to chase Green to the end of the train car. 

Merin said Bowen pulled a black knife from his bag and swung at Green in a “roundhouse punch,” possibly cutting Green’s face and right eye. Green retreated down the train car and then four to five shots were fired, which Merin described as fired by Green. 

Bowen—who was possibly struck in the head, chest, arm and leg—appeared to fall to the ground near two passengers and someone could be heard screaming in the video. Afterward, Green walked back toward the other end of the train, where three other witnesses were seen fleeing. Merin said Green then apologized to the passengers, including the 70-year-old he wounded. 

Police found Bowen’s knife a few feet from his body, Merin said. 

“He was in a position he’d never been in before,” Knox said. “He was being attacked by a man with a knife.”

Green left the scene and was not arrested until two days later, on the evening of June 23, when he cooperated with police, handed over the gun and gave a statement about what happened, Knox said. 

Police initially released video stills of the shooting, which showed a grainy image of Green. But they did not include details about what attorneys later described as acts of self defense.

House Arrest

A request by Merin for detention without bail was denied by Judge Christine Van Aken, who set bail at $75,000 and subjected Green to a number of conditions if released. 

Those conditions included home detention with a GPS, and police will be allowed to search Green whenever and wherever they want. He is also barred from possessing firearms. 

Finally, Green—who used the train he was riding during the incident to get to work as a security guard—has been ordered to stay away from Muni lines M, K and L.

Jonah Owen Lamb can be reached at

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