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Smashed cars, busted building: Tourist bus gets close-up view of chaotic robbery aftermath

A gray car has crashed into the side of a building, damaging a garage door. A police officer is at the scene, inspecting the damage.
A car smashed into a building at Eighth Avenue and Cabrillo Street on Tuesday morning following a robbery and hit-and-run collision. | Source: Courtesy of Nadia Rahman

San Francisco police detained two people after a robbery and hit-and-run collision Tuesday morning in the city's Richmond District, according to authorities.

The incident started around 10:34 a.m., when a woman was allegedly accosted by two strange men, who forced her to the ground and stole her belongings near Balboa Street and 26th Avenue, the San Francisco Police Department said.

Officers spotted the suspects’ car in the area and briefly chased it before ending the pursuit because of public safety concerns.

San Francisco police detained two suspects after a robbery and hit-and-run collision Tuesday morning in the city's Richmond District. | Source: Courtesy KGO-TV/ABC7

The suspects’ vehicle subsequently collided with a car that was moving through the intersection before crashing into an apartment building at Eighth Avenue and Cabrillo Street, a block from Golden Gate Park, according to a witness and police. The two suspects then fled on foot.

Police said officers detained two individuals in the area as part of the investigation, though it wasn’t immediately clear if they were the robbery suspects.

The robbery victim was medically evaluated at the scene by paramedics. A person who was in the vehicle that was struck during the hit-and-run was assessed and treated by emergency personnel.

A blue car with severe front damage is on a street corner near a traffic pole; debris is scattered on the road. Two men stand nearby observing.
A Mini Cooper traveling through the intersection was struck in a hit-and-run collision near the intersection of Eighth Avenue and Cabrillo Street on Tuesday. | Source: Courtesy Myles Pynchon

In a video posted to X, a tourist double-decker bus is seen passing by the scene of the crash. A tour bus company did not immediately respond to The Standard's request for comment.

Jen Nossokoff, a transit and safe streets advocate running for District 1 supervisor, said she heard the crash from her home and immediately went to check what happened. Nossokoff said the proximity of the crash to residences was concerning.

“I live a block away,” she said. “This is the corner that I touch with my children twice a day. This is a high-traffic area. It's a miracle that nobody was standing on that corner.”

Wreckage from a crash at an apartment building at 698 Cabrillo St. is seen Tuesday after two men crashed a car into it hours earlier. The men were fleeing in the vehicle after robbing a woman at 26th Avenue and Balboa Street around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, police said.
Two men crashed a car into an apartment building at 698 Cabrillo St. on Tuesday morning, and by late afternoon, it was being boarded up with plywood. | Source: Garrett Leahy/The Standard

Around 4:30 p.m., the area of the building damaged by the car crashing into it was being patched over with plywood.

Dennis Crosby, who lives in the building, told The Standard a water pipe was damaged in the crash, which he said displaced a resident living on the first floor.

The apartment’s soaking wet carpet, as well as water damage along the bottom of the door, was visible from the sidewalk through the hole in the wall Tuesday afternoon.

“I heard a car racing and then one crash and then a second,” Crosby said. “It was really loud. I felt it.”

A man in a red vest stands in front of a building with boarded-up windows, near a metal fence and red trolley bus in the background.
Dennis Crosby, who lives in the building the car crashed into, says if the collision had happened earlier in the morning, the suspects’ car could have hit kids as they walked to school. | Source: Garrett Leahy/The Standard

Crosby said building inspectors told him the building was not structurally compromised.

Josh Steele, 49, who lives on Cabrillo, said he and his wife had just returned home from a hike around 10:30 a.m. when he saw a gray sedan speeding east down Cabrillo around 65 mph and then slamming on the brakes as it entered the intersection. The car then hit a blue Mini Cooper that was traveling through the intersection and sent it spinning before it hit a utility pole on the corner outside the apartment building, according to Steele.

“If it came 45 seconds sooner, it could have hit us as we were pulling in,” Steele told The Standard.

Two young men then jumped out of the car and fled in different directions, Steele said. He began to chase one of the suspects but soon stopped after seeing the man was holding a gun, he said. Steele said he also saw a gun in the car's driver-side footwell.

A man stands before a crosswalk on a city street, wearing a grey coat and a baseball cap with the SF Giants logo. The neighborhood has residential buildings and parked cars.
Josh Steele says he saw the suspects’ vehicle speed down Cabrillo before colliding with another car that was traveling through the intersection. | Source: Garrett Leahy/The Standard

Crosby said an incident like Tuesday’s was unusual in the otherwise sleepy Richmond neighborhood.

“We’re used to people getting their cars broken into, not high-speed car chases,” Crosby said.

Crosby said this crash was also scary because elementary school kids often walk down Cabrillo to get to school.

“We’re really lucky no one got hurt,” Crosby said. "If they came an hour earlier, it could have been a disaster."

Correction: This story has been updated to remove a mention of a tour bus company that did not pass by the incident.

Garrett Leahy can be reached at garrett@sfstandard.com