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Criminal Justice

SoMa Sees Spike in Shootings as Police, Urban Alchemy Push Drug Dealers Out of Tenderloin

Written by Michael BarbaUpdated at Mar. 22, 2022 • 4:12pmPublished Mar. 22, 2022 • 1:44pm

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A recent rash of shootings on a South of Market alley overrun by drug dealing is turning the area into a new hotspot for gun violence.

In a less than two-week span ending March 1, three people were shot and injured on the same block of Minna Street between Sixth and Seventh streets, just across the road from where police found a 16-year-old girl dead from a possible drug overdose last month. The victims included a gig worker who was shot while delivering food for DoorDash on an electric scooter, according to police.

Records show the wounded were among nine people shot so far this year in a part of town known to police as the Southern District, an area that stretches southeast from SoMa toward the Embarcadero and also includes Mission Bay. (The Standard identified one more shooting than reflected in police data.)

As of last week, the Southern had recorded more shootings than any other police district in the city—and it was the only district reporting an increase in gun violence so far in 2022. The numbers in the Southern also far exceed the one and two shootings the district reported in early 2020 and 2021, respectively, and nearly as many shootings have occurred this year as the Southern saw in all of last year.

While it’s unclear how many of the shootings were related to drugs, most of the shootings erupted just south of Market Street—an area that has seen more drug activity since Mayor London Breed declared an emergency in the Tenderloin last December. Police and community ambassadors with the nonprofit Urban Alchemy have ramped up their presence in the Tenderloin, which has pushed dealers to different corners in the neighborhood and deeper into SoMa.

Reese Isbell, a resident of a new condominium building at the corner of Seventh and Minna streets, has seen the neighborhood change for the worse since moving there last July.

When he first arrived, most of the drug dealing happened up Seventh Street, closer to Market Street or outside the federal building on Mission Street, Reese said. But since the holidays, drug dealers and users have “overtaken” the corner outside his building on Minna Street.

“My concern is that everyday, going in and out of my house, my front door is overwhelmed by people asking people to take drugs and buy drugs, and then we have potential overdoses happening all the time,” Reese said. “It’s just not safe.”

Reese, who is a mayoral appointee to a San Francisco Public Utilities Commission board, has helped organize neighbors around the issue of drug dealing. He said he was not surprised to hear about the uptick in shootings on his block.

“That’s part of the drug dealing situation—a potential for violence,” Reese said.

Police Chief Bill Scott addressed the rise in shootings in the Southern District at the Police Commission last Wednesday. At the meeting, the chief said only one of the shootings may have been connected to drugs, but he called the trend “concerning.”"

"We will continue to try to drill down on why we think these things are the way they are, but right now we can’t say that it’s associated with anything to do with the Tenderloin,” Scott said.

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Scott confirmed that police have seen an uptick in drug sales in SoMa after deploying additional officers to the Tenderloin.

A police spokesperson declined to provide details on the shootings.

“Part of any investigation is determining the events, details, and possible motives leading up to the incident,” Officer Adam Lobsinger said. “Because these are open investigations, we cannot comment further, and are unable to confirm which of these incidents, if any, are drug-related.”

In addition to the three shootings on Minna Street, a fourth occurred around the corner where a man was shot and wounded in January during an armed robbery.

The most serious incident in the Southern happened outside of SoMa, near the Embarcadero on Jan. 3, when a man was shot and killed in an apartment on the 100 block of Brannan Street. A suspect in the case, Ricky Anicas, 43, turned himself into authorities and was booked on suspicion of murder and assault charges. Records show he is no longer in County Jail. A spokesperson for the District Attorney’s Office said the case was discharged for further investigation.

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Michael Barba can be reached at [email protected]




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