When gunfire rang out inside a UPS building in the Potrero Hill neighborhood on June 14, San Francisco police Officer Garth Sutton was just one block away. He arrived on the scene within minutes.
Chaos ensued and people inside the building were rushing out into the streets, but Sutton and his fellow officers ran the opposite direction of the crowd.
Witnesses told Sutton the shooter was wearing the same brown UPS uniform as all of the other employees inside. “So you can imagine it’s kind of hard to look at that situation and go, ‘Who’s the shooter?’” Sutton said on Thursday during a ceremony at City Hall honoring the first responders to the deadly shooting.
“We had to act fast,” he said. “There were a lot of people that did a lot of exceptional things that day, as far as going above and beyond.”
Mayor Ed Lee honored Sutton and 16 other first responders in the fatal shooting of three UPS workers by awarding them certificates of honor and pins in City Hall. Jimmy Lam, 38, shot and killed his co-workers Wayne Chan, 56, Mike Lefiti 46, and Benson Louie, 50, during their morning meeting on June 14.
“I think what distinguishes all of you today as public servants, both new and veterans, is that in the moment of tremendous need, you were there,” Lee said.
Among the honorees were employees from the San Francisco Police Department, the UC San Francisco Police Department, the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department, the San Francisco Fire Department, the Department of Emergency Services and the California Highway Patrol.
Lee said the response took collaboration and coordination among each of the agencies involved. Together, they helped assess the situation, secure the area and treat those who were wounded.
“I have four kids and a wife at home, and certainly it was a chaotic event,” said Clementino Avila, a first responder and captain at Emergency Management Services. “The only thing we can do is revert back to our training and what The City has provided for us.”
Five UPS drivers have yet to return to work since the shooting. The mayor said he gave his UPS driver a hug last week and was lucky enough to be able to thank him.
“We will never forget, of course, the men that were lost that day in June,” Lee said. “And it was a tragedy that left us heartbroken, certainly grief stricken, and certainly asking questions that may probably never be answered.”
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