SFPD Shootout: Officers Fired 65 Shots at Suspect, and No One Was Hit

Save ArticleSave Article

Failed to save article

Please try again

This article is more than 4 years old.
Screen shot from body-camera footage of gunfire between San Francisco police officers and a homicide suspect on Feb. 17. Seven officers fired approximately 65 rounds after the suspect fired twice from inside an RV, according to the Police Department. No one was injured and Joel Armstrong was later arrested.

Seven San Francisco police officers fired some 65 rounds at a homicide suspect on Feb. 17 after he shot a handgun twice from inside a parked RV, according to a description of the incident, released Tuesday night along with videos from the officers' body cameras.

No one was hit by the gunfire.

The chain of events that led to the shootout began the evening of Feb. 16, when police responded to reports of gunshots in the northwest corner of the Haight-Ashbury district, bordering Golden Gate Park and south of the Panhandle. They found two people suffering from apparent gunshot wounds. One was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police linked the homicide and a nearby carjacking to the same suspect, identified as Joel Armstrong.

Nearly six hours later, just after midnight Feb. 17, officers in the city's Design District, north of Potrero Hill, noticed the stolen car parked behind an RV on Alameda Street between De Haro and Rhode Island streets.

Sponsored

An officer "peered into a window of the RV" and saw Armstrong, according to the Police Department's description of the incident. One of seven body-camera videos released by the Police Department shows an officer rush back to his colleagues after looking in the window.

"Hey, we got him! We got him," the officer says. "He's in there! He's in there!"

The body-camera footage shows several officers assembling behind the RV. They ordered people out of the vehicle -- police say three occupants emerged, including a woman with a large barking dog visible on the videos. The officers ordered her to stay down and hold the dog while they continued to call out Armstrong.

Then two shots the Police Department says were fired from inside the RV rang out. Video shows officers scrambling for cover and beginning to fire. One fell, then another tripped over him. They both continued firing.

A total of seven officers unleashed a fusillade from handguns and assault rifles at the RV for more than 10 seconds. The woman with the dog appeared to still be near the vehicle, though her figure is redacted in the video.

Police then moved back and continued to order Armstrong out.

Armstrong, 31, surrendered at 2:15 a.m. He's charged with murder, eight counts of attempted murder, carjacking, being a felon in possession of a firearm, discharge of a firearm and receiving stolen property, according to the Police Department.

The department identified the officers who fired their weapons as Glennon Griffin, Anthony Sharron, Robby Wilkom, Matthew Nazar, Gregory Buhagiar, Steven Oesterich and Christopher Cotter.

Police homicide and internal affairs investigations into the incident are ongoing. The District Attorney's Office and Department of Police Accountability are also investigating.

SFPD Commander Greg McEachern told the San Francisco Examiner at a Tuesday night meeting about the shooting that officers would be interviewed "to determine why they shot the number of shots that they fired.”