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Panhandle homicide suspect shot two over alleged rape, prosecutors say

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(Examiner file photo)

The homicide suspect arrested in a shootout with police over the weekend is accused of shooting two men hours earlier in the Panhandle over the alleged rape of his girlfriend, prosecutors said Thursday.

Joel Armstrong, a 31-year-old transient who has served three stints in state prison for illegal gun possession, allegedly opened fire on seven police officers in the Design District shortly after midnight Saturday. Police fired back but no one was injured in the exchange of gunfire.

Hours earlier, Armstrong was allegedly using drugs with two men near Oak and Stanyan streets near Golden Gate Park when he became “irate,” Assistant District Attorney Michael Swart said in court filings.

Swart alleged Armstrong accused one of the men of raping his girlfriend and pulled out a semi-automatic Makarov pistol. Each man denied the accusation, but Armstrong allegedly shot them both.

Swart described the scene as “carnage.” Milkon Isleyen, 28, was shot in the chest and died at the scene. The other man was shot in the back and shoulder and taken to the hospital in life-threatening condition.

Armstrong was not arrested until hours later. He allegedly carjacked a Toyota 4Runner at gunpoint and drove to Alameda and De Haro streets, where police located the stolen SUV parked behind a recreational vehicle just after midnight.

Swart wrote that the RV was filled with “homeless drug addicts who were getting high inside.” All of the passengers complied with a police order to exit the vehicle except for Armstrong, who allegedly began firing at officers from inside.

“Shots fired inside the RV at officers,” a dispatcher said over police radio reviewed by the San Francisco Examiner. “Shots are fired from inside the RV.”

“Officer-involved shooting,” another person said, calling for backup. “They are shooting at officers. No officers are injured.”

In court filings, Swart said an officer heard “the wind from a bullet go past his head” and seven police officers opened fire on the RV.

The gunfire led to a standoff that lasted until 2:20 a.m. Police blocked off the area while a tactical unit and hostage negotiators responded to the scene. Armstrong eventually exited the RV and was arrested.

Armstrong made his first appearance in the case Thursday at the Hall of Justice.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Braden Woods ordered Armstrong to be held without bail and revoked his probation from a previous conviction for a gun offense.

“Mr. Armstrong looks forward to fighting this case,” said Deputy Public Defender Kwixuan Maloof, who represented Armstrong in court. “Obviously there is a lot of investigation that needs to happen.”

Maloof said Armstrong is expected to enter a plea of not guilty on Monday.

“The defendant is charged with some very serious charges,” said Alex Bastian, a spokesperson for the District Attorney’s Office.

At the Police Commission on Wednesday, police Chief Bill Scott said he will hold a town hall meeting on the police shooting next week.

“Luckily in the exchange of gunfire none of our officers were hurt and we were able to take the person in custody without incident,” Scott said. “He was also not injured.”

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mbarba@sfexaminer.com

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