San Francisco using red flag law to try removing gun from synagogue shooting suspect

San Francisco's city attorney is going to court on Thursday to try to use the state's red flag law to take away guns from a man accused of firing blanks inside a Richmond district synagogue earlier this month. 

San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu said he is seeking a permanent gun violence restraining order against Dmitri Valerie Mishin in connection with shootings at the Schneerson Center on Feb. 1 as well as the Balboa Theatre the day before. 

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Richard Ulmer already granted a temporary gun violence restraining order against Mishin. But he agreed to delay a court hearing to figure out if the public defender could represent Mishin in both his criminal and civil matters.

Since San Francisco implemented its gun violence restraining order law in 2019, the city has used the law to remove firearms from 47 people who posed a danger to themselves or others. The city attorney's office said there was only one request so far that has been denied. 

"Mr. Mishin is a textbook example of someone who poses a risk to the public and should not have access to firearms," Chiu said in a statement. "Our office is ramping up our gun violence restraining order program, and this case serves as an opportunity to remind the public that GVROs are one of the most effective tools we have to prevent gun violence and save lives.."

If granted, the restraining order will remove firearms from Mishin and prevent him from owning or possessing firearms or ammunition for a period of up to five years. Currently, police have obtained an emergency temporary restraining gun order against him. 

Mishin is accused of firing blank ammunition rounds into the Schneerson Center, a hub for mostly Russian Jews, and interrupting a class being taught to a group of synagogue elders on Feb. 1. 

He is also reported to have made strange comments to synagogue officials about "the Mossad," Israel’s intelligence agency. 

The day before, on Jan. 1, the city attorney's office said Mishin allegedly took out a firearm inside of the Balboa Theatre. 

The San Francisco Standard and the J. Weekly have reported that social media accounts appearing to belong to Mishin have posted anti-Semitic content and Nazi propaganda.

Mishin was arrested on Feb. 3. 

The District Attorney’s Office charged Mishin with two felony counts of making threats obstructing the exercise of religion, one count of misdemeanor disturbing a religious meeting, and five counts of misdemeanor brandishing a replica firearm. The District Attorney is seeking hate crime enhancements on the felony threats obstructing the exercise of religion.

Gun violence restraining orders are obtained through civil court proceedings and can be used to remove firearms from individuals at risk of harming themselves or others. 

San Francisco has seized firearms and ammunition in domestic violence situations, circumstances in which people expressed firm plans of suicide, and a road rage incident in which an individual threatened the life of a fellow motorist with a knife in front of a minor.

 While many gun violence restraining orders are sought through law enforcement, immediate family or household members, coworkers, employers, and teachers can petition the court directly to obtain one.