SAN FRANCISCO - What started as a joyous day in San Francisco for a 21-year-old visiting from Watsonville on a recent Sunday turned to terror and shock when a gunshot rang out in broad daylight.
The woman was driving along Alemany Boulevard with her two friends shortly before 3 p.m. on June 6 when the bullet pierced her car door and lodged in her knee.
"I started freaking out because I didn’t know what was going to happen," the woman told KTVU during a bedside interview at the hospital. "My leg was really bloody and I didn’t know if I was going to be able to move my leg anymore."
The shooting comes amid a sharp upturn in gun violence in San Francisco that began during the coronavirus pandemic but shows no signs of slowing. As the economy begins opening up and tourists begin returning, officials are concerned visitors will be coming to a more violent city that before.
"We want people to visit our city and have a good experience so they go home to Michigan or Ohio or Taiwan or anywhere in the world they’re from and say San Francisco is a great place," said Joel Engardio, executive director of Stop Crime SF, a public safety advocacy group.
According to the San Francisco Police Department’s most recent statistics, there were 558 shootings in 2020, a 41% increase from the year before. Of those shootings, 122 people were wounded and 31 were killed.
As of June 13 this year, the numbers were on pace to be even worse. There were 327 shootings, resulting in 71 people being wounded and 12 killed. Since the data was released, there have been at least three more fatal shootings in the city.
In fact, gun violence has increased in nearly every major city in the country starting at the onset of the pandemic, potentially ending a decade long drop in violent crime.
Police officials are also concerned as the warm summer months approach, which typically see the most violence.
It also complicates issues around police reform. Activists have been calling to either abolish or de-fund the police following the killing of George Floyd last year. Many cities, including San Francisco, have pledged to re-allocate funding for law enforcement into community-based programs.
But law enforcement groups say that taking away officers as violence begins to increase could cause things to spiral out of control.
"Make no mistake and I’m here to say, yes, you’re starting to see certain crimes rise up and what are we going to do about that as a whole?" Tracy McCray, vice president of the city’s police union, said. "You’re going to need more cops now at this point that we ever needed before because of crime."
The young woman who KTVU spoke to – who asked to not be named to protect her safety – said the experience forever changed how she feels about the city.
"I’m not going to be coming over here anymore," she said "I don’t even want to drive my car anymore."
She and her friends decided to visit the city after seeing the paddle boats at Stow Lake on Tick Tock. They rented a boat and decided to get ice cream on their way out of town.
But as they drove along Alemany Boulevard in the Oceanview neighborhood, someone randomly shot at their car. Police have not identified a suspect or made an arrest in the case.
The women Googled the nearest hospital and drove to Seton Medical Center in Daly City, where doctors removed the bullet.
The victim has since returned home. She will require physical therapy and help processing the trauma of the attack.
"It’s not normal," she said. "It shouldn’t be normal for people to be getting shot."
Evan Sernoffsky is an investigative reporter for KTVU. Email Evan at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EvanSernoffsky