Police attempt to reassure residents after killing in San Francisco's Bernal Heights Park
SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) -- Residents who live in or near Bernal Heights Park gathered Wednesday evening to express their concern after the body of a murder victim was found last week in the park.
Police officers offered reassurances to the crowd that the park and adjacent neighborhood are safe. But relatives of Giovanny Alvarez disagreed.
"This could happen to anybody, to any of your family members, and we just want justice," said the victim's sister, Catherine Alvarez.
She tearfully addressed the community meeting, flanked by other grieving relatives.
"It can happen to someone else and we can stop that," Alvarez said. "So if you saw something or heard something just call."
The body of Alvarez, 33, was found before dawn on May 25, 2017 by someone walking in the park. He had been stabbed several times, authorities said.
The spot where he was found, on a main trail, is now marked by flowers and candles that are impossible for visitors to miss.
"I'm here all the time with my dog," resident Jerome Mungapen said. "And it's kind of shocking that it would happen right there. So it has made me think twice about coming up here at night."
The San Francisco supervisor whose district includes Bernal Heights, called the meeting to keep worried residents informed.
"Yes, it is safe for my constitutents to go jogging on Bernal Hill in the morning," Supervisor Hillary Ronen told the group.
"The police do not believe this was a random crime so they believe the community is safe."
Police are asking anyone with information about the crime to come forward.
"These people came from somewhere and they went to somewhere," said Ingleside Station police Captain Joseph McFadden.
McFadden asked residents to check the video from their home security systems, starting on the day before the killing, for anything out of the ordinary.
"Because that little piece of evidence might be key to helping us prosecute this crime," he said.
Investigators have reviewed video from city-owned cameras mounted on top of Bernal Hill. But police are have not publicly disclosed a possible motive or suspect information.
"We do have leads we are looking into and we are in communication with the homicide investigators," McFadden said.
"But the premise of this meeting is to quell the fears, the rumors, the stories that go around."
Residents wanted to know if Alvarez was actually killed in the park or elsewhere. There were also questions about a cloth knife sheath found on the ground.
Whether Alvarez knew his killers was another unanswered question, causing frustration for some participants.
"For the captain to say we're safe, I really want him to convince me," resident Laurel Muniz said. "Because I don't know that it's random and what does that really mean?"
Police say Alvarez was targeted, but without details, even his loved ones say they and other park visitors are not safe.
"Anybody could be a target next," Catherine Alvarez said. "If you're walking, walking the dog or jogging, you're not safe."
Anyone with information about the stabbing is asked to call the San Francisco Police Department's anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or send a text to TIP411 and begin the message with "SFPD."
A GoFundMe account has been set up to offset burial expenses for Alvarez, who had four children, ages 5, 8, 14 and 16. The online listing described him as passionate, artistic, funny, and loved by many.
>>>>>For the GoFundMe acount: Click here
By KTVU reporter Debora Villalon.