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Bystanders describe ‘total chaos’ as gunfire erupted on San Francisco’s Embarcadero on Father’s Day

Tourists visit San Francisco's Pier 39 on Monday, the day after a shooting incident left six injured. | Julie Zigoris/The Standard | Source: Julie Zigoris/The Standard

A sunny Father’s Day on San Francisco’s Embarcadero waterfront turned into terror as gunfire erupted Sunday evening, sending locals, tourists and workers at the area’s many shops and cafes running and ducking for cover. 

One man was reportedly arrested and a woman detained in connection with a car-to-car shooting incident that left six injured from gunfire, shattered glass and a vehicle collision. Police Chief Bill Scott described the incident at a Sunday media briefing as a “mile of chaos” that involved two vehicles exchanging gunfire and driving recklessly along the waterfront. 

“At first, I thought they were fireworks,” said Ari Cruz, who works at the nearby Wipeout To Go and was outside when the shooting happened. “I was so scared.” 

She said she saw people running and took shelter in a nearby ice cream shop.

“It was total chaos. People were banging on the door, screaming,” Cruz recalled, saying she called her mother and told her she loved her. She said she couldn’t sleep Sunday evening due to anxiety from the incident.

A footage compilation—courtesy of The Standard's media partners at KGO-TV ABC7—shows the timeline of the shooting incident on the Embarcadero waterfront on Sunday. | Courtesy KGO-TV ABC7 Bay Area

Two people were hit by gunfire and three people were injured by glass shards, Scott said. Two girls, ages 10 and 16, were hit by a vehicle as they were walking their bicycles across the Embarcadero; the younger girl was injured.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who represents the city’s northern waterfront, said he was told that the man arrested was shot in the chest and in critical condition; the condition of the woman detained is unknown.

Perkin Young, who works at Pier 39, was at the California Welcome Center when the shots broke out. Five people were inside and another five ran inside, he said. 

“I didn’t hear the shots, but I knew because I saw people running,” Young said. He said he pulled the gates down and everyone hunkered inside for about 10 minutes. 

Car-to-car shootings have grown increasingly common on Bay Area freeways, but such an incident is unusual on one of San Francisco’s main tourist thoroughfares. The Embarcadero incident comes just days after a shooting in the Mission District injured nine people.

Daniel Alonso, operations manager at the Hard Rock Cafe, said that “everyone got onto the ground when they heard the shots.

“It happened so fast; people ran to the back,” Alonso said. “They were in shock.”

Pedestrians walk along Pier 39 in San Francisco on Monday, one day after a shooting incident left six injured along the Embarcadero. | Julie Zigoris/The Standard

Despite the frightening scene that unfolded on Sunday, by Monday afternoon it was business as usual near Pier 39. Gunfire was initially reported at Beach and Stockton streets Sunday, right near the famed tourist attraction. 

Nancy Calle came into the city with a few friends from nearby Oakland, despite hearing about the shooting. “We’re here to play tourists for the day,” she said. 

Calle said she wasn’t going to let the news stop her plans, but she was concerned about the negative impact of violence on San Francisco. 

“We want tourists to come back to the city, and this is nervous-making,” Calle said. 

Asked whether the shooting had impacted business today, Young said no.

“Only the people working here know about it,” he said.

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