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San Francisco shopkeeper dies after brutal attack, family says

Yohannes ‘John’ Tewolde, pictured with his wife, was reportedly assaulted on Thursday and is suffering from serious head injuries. | Source: Courtesy Tewolde family

A San Francisco shopkeeper has died after a brutal assault on Thursday, his daughter told The Standard on Tuesday.

Richmond Market store clerk Yohannes “John” Tewolde, 60, was pushed to the ground and beaten with a baseball bat after confronting a suspected thief in the store, his eldest daughter, Meron Tewolde, said.

A vigil will be held for the store clerk on Thursday at 9 p.m. in front of the Richmond Market at the corner of 41st Avenue and Balboa Street.

Tewolde said her father, who was hospitalized, died around 1 p.m. on Tuesday.

“My dad was just trying to do the right thing,” she said. “My dad stood up in front of him; the guy pushed my dad and smashed his head with a baseball bat.”

The San Francisco Police Department said Wednesday the investigation is now being handled by homicide investigators. No arrests have been made.

“The suspect confronted the victim, who was holding a bat,” a police spokesperson said Monday. “The suspect assaulted the victim, took the bat from the victim, then struck the victim with the bat. The suspect then threw the bat at another victim and fled the scene in an unknown sedan. The second victim was not injured during this incident.”

READ MORE: San Francisco Business Owner Says He Was Punched in Face After Confronting Peeing Man

Yohannes "John" Tewolde, pictured with his wife, was allegedly assaulted on Thursday and died Tuesday. | Source: Courtesy Tewolde family

Concerned residents in the Richmond District banded together in an effort to support Tewolde and his family. Two neighbors began a GoFundMe campaign, which passed its original $25,000 goal before 9 a.m. Tuesday morning. By Tuesday afternoon, the fund had raised over $32,000 of its new goal of $50,000.

One of the creators of the GoFundMe, Tom Imrey, said he had just gotten home when he saw first responders at the Richmond Market. After dropping some items off at home, Imrey said he returned to the market to see paramedics working on Tewolde.

After Imrey posted about the attack on the NextDoor social media platform, another neighbor, Drew Min, reached out to him, and the two began the fundraising campaign with permission from Tewolde’s wife.

“I know him as an honest, hard-working individual,” Min said. “Anyone who lives in that neighborhood and visited that store probably met with John.”

In a statement posted Sunday to the GoFundMe page, Min said he visited the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and learned from family members that Tewolde was still in critical condition at the time.

Tewolde grew up in Eritrea and lived in Canada for seven years before moving to the United States in 2013, his daughter said. He was a father of two and was married for 28 years.

“He takes care of me,” Meron Tewolde said. “He takes care of everybody. He sends money to everyone. There’s so many people who are waiting on him to be fed. It’s crazy. I don’t know who’s going to fill his shoes.”

Violent crime in the Outer Richmond neighborhood, which includes aggravated assaults and robberies, has risen slightly since pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

In Outer Richmond, there were 71 violent crime incidents in the 12 months leading up to Aug. 26, this year, compared with 64 during the same time period ending in August 2019, according to police incident data analyzed by The Standard.

Citywide, the rate of violent crime incidents has dropped since 2019, from 59 incidents per 10,000 residents to 57 per 10,000.

Police incident data includes calls to police and reports filed by officers when attending to incidents.

George Kelly can be reached at