Richmond Police sergeant arrested in SF hotel standoff

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN)-- San Francisco police today confirmed that a Richmond police officer was arrested Sunday in connection with a standoff at a downtown hotel.

There are reports the sergeant was acting strangely at the hotel before the shooting. Witnesses say the sergeant spoke of spirits and wandered throughout the hotel before firing numerous shots. 

Philip Sanchez, a 45-year-old Richmond police sergeant, was booked Sunday on suspicion of negligent discharge of a weapon, vandalism with a value of $400 or more, assault with a firearm and shooting in an inhabited dwelling, according to San Francisco police spokesman Officer Robert Rueca.

Police responded to the Four Seasons Hotel & Residences at 757 Market Street around 4:55 a.m. Sunday after they received reports of possible gunfire.

Witnesses said the suspect shot a gun inside the hotel.

Initially he refused to come out of the hotel, leading to a standoff. 

Police were able to communicate with him by telephone, however, and around 6:30 a.m. he surrendered to officers without incident. 

Officers recovered a handgun and numerous 9mm shell casings, but would not say if an on or off-duty gun was used. 

There were no reports of injuries and Sanchez, a nine-year-veteran, was being medically evaluated, Rueca said on Sunday. His attorney said he suffered a "mental health episode". 

Jail records do not show Sanchez in custody as of this afternoon. 

A spokesman for the district attorney's office indicated Sanchez' case had not yet been referred for charges as of this afternoon. He could face criminal charges in San Francisco and disciplinary action by Richmond police. 

"Administratively, our office of professional accountability will investigate the incident and however way the investigation falls is how we determine what's going to happen," said Lt. Felix Tan.  

A former co-worker and the sergeant's attorney tell KTVU that this incident is out of character for Sanchez, who has received awards for arresting drunk drivers during his career. 

But civil rights attorney John Burris says the sergeant poses a danger to the public. 

"It was a pretty dangerous situation period. The problem I have concern about is his mental health. Whether this is a person who should be carrying a gun at all if you are in fact firing a gun off-duty, randomly," Burris said. 

Richmond Police said they were relieved that no one was hurt. 

The Four Seasons Hotel issued the following statement on the shooting: 

"At Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco the safety and security of our guests and employees is our top priority. We can confirm that a situation occurred the morning of December 17 involving a guest of the hotel."