Patrick Perez was walking home alone at 4:30 a.m. on Saturday when two men started to approach him from behind. In spite of the late hour, he didn’t feel unsafe, as a construction crew was working on O’Farrell Street.
But as Perez got to the intersection of Post and Mason streets, the men’s conversation struck him as conspicuously loud and, his radar triggered, he put his hands in his pocket to insert his keys between his knuckles, just in case. He turned around and saw the men, one in a black hoodie and the other in a beige hoodie, each wearing a black mask. Both were a bit shorter than his 6-foot stature. They encircled him and began punching.
“I intercepted that punch with the keys and defended myself in that moment,” Perez, 41, told The Standard. “Their response after that was to bust out a gun, and they demanded to see my wallet and keys.”
Perez handed the items over, only for his assailants to tug at his clothes and order him to give them his phone, too. At that moment, they were only one door down from Perez’s building. In his peripheral vision, he saw the gun pointed at his head—and then he heard a shot. The men took off, and he screamed for help.
Perez took the bullet in his shoulder. Someone called 911, and the paramedics transported him to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, where Perez received five liters of blood and a trauma nurse was assigned to him. His injuries were severe.
“In surgery, they grafted a vein from my thigh to my shoulder, because there’s an exit wound there and it was completely damaged,” Perez said from his hospital bed. “I’m not sure what that’s going to look like, in terms of recovery.”
Although the loss of his phone initially meant he could not contact anyone, Perez—who is gay and goes by Patch—said he is now receiving support and care from family and friends. A crowdfunding campaign has already exceeded its $10,000 goal by more than half. He also expressed gratitude to the San Francisco Police Department officer assigned to his case.
The officer “has surveillance from before, during and after [the attack], so we have a lot of evidence,” Perez said.
Reached for comment, the police confirmed that officers responded to reports of a shooting on the 500 block of Mason Street at 4:56 a.m. Saturday, April 8.
“Officers rendered aid and summoned medics to the scene, who transported the victim to the hospital for life-threatening injuries,” a department spokesperson told the Standard. “The preliminary investigation determined that the victim was approached by unknown males and robbed the victim at gunpoint. During the robbery, the victim was shot, and the suspects fled the scene.”
In a week marked by the late-night killing of tech executive Bob Lee and the beating of a former fire commissioner with a metal pipe, San Francisco has been consumed with talk of violent crime.
While most categories of crime remain at or near historic lows, lurid anecdotes tend to color people’s perceptions of public safety. For many people in the Bay Area’s LGBTQ+ communities, a sense of unease has been growing in the wake of the Colorado Springs nightclub shooting and a national reaction against LGBTQ+ visibility. Locally, queer bar owners have begun training their staff on what to do in the event of an active shooter. In February, a gay man named Barry Miles was beaten after leaving a queer bar in SoMa.
Perez believes his attack was random.
“I don’t think it was a hate crime,” he said. “I was just out walking around. Sometimes, I don’t sleep well, and occasionally, I am out and about. I was sober in that moment.”
Perez, who only became aware of Bob Lee’s death during his stay in the hospital, has lived in the city since 2018. He’s the membership engagement manager at the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, where his staff bio mentions his love of corgis and cycling for a cause.
"Patrick is a valuable member of our staff and we are so relieved that he is doing well and taking the time that he needs to heal," the coalition's executive director, Janelle Wong, told The Standard. "We will continue to support him in any way that we can ,and we look forward to his continued positive contributions to our work."
Although Perez is not looking forward to the drawn-out emotional trauma or a trial in the event his assailants are apprehended, the episode has not soured him on San Francisco itself. He intends to stay, he said.
“I don’t feel unsafe, even walking through Market Street at night, because I’ve never considered the community or the homeless as a threat,” he said. “I have a sense of empathy for people out there. I know they’re struggling despite what’s going on.”
Astrid Kane can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org