Officer who shot gang member hailed as hero 

The parolee who was shot by an officer in the Mission district Thursday had apparently been planning to commit a gang-related killing that very night, police Chief Greg Suhr said Monday.

Known Norteño gangster Oliver Barcenas was shot by a plainclothes officer at 14th and Minna streets after he reportedly raised a TEC-9 gun at the cop. The nonfatal incident sparked two nights of protests in the Mission, including vandalism reportedly done by anarchists outraged at the SFPD.

During a community meeting Monday, Suhr released new details about the shooting that he said prove the officer was not only justified in pulling the trigger, but also a hero.

That night, according to investigators, the 22-year-old parolee had been headed to the southern end of the Mission to exact revenge for a gang homicide that had occurred in the neighborhood the previous week. While driving down 14th Street near Natoma Street about 8 p.m., two SFPD gang task force officers stopped Barcenas, who they reportedly knew to be a gang member on parole.

The officers had been searching for youths on probation who were out past curfew as part of the Juvenile Probation Department program Operation Night Light, which began last summer in response to an uptick in gun violence. Barcenas was reportedly seen clutching onto an object in his waistband, and after seeing the cops he started running westbound on 14th Street.

During the chase, Suhr said, Barcenas pulled out a TEC-9. Despite one officer’s command to drop the weapon, the parolee reportedly turned toward the cop and began to raise the gun.

In order to protect himself, Suhr said, the officer fired three times, hitting Barcenas twice. Barcenas remains at San Francisco General Hospital, where he is being treated for injuries that are not life-threatening.

“These officers on Thursday night were exactly where they were supposed to be, doing exactly what they were asked to do,” Suhr said.

Barcenas’ gun was loaded with 25 rounds, Suhr said, or “just over twice as many bullets as we have in any of our service weapons.”

And, Suhr said, he wasn’t afraid to use it: The gangster had been paroled in February in connection with a 2009 gang shootout in the Mission that injured two people, including a 15-year-old boy who was caught in the crossfire.

Barcenas returned to jail in August for violating his parole, Suhr said, and was only let out again a few weeks ago.

Thomas Mazzucco, president of the Police Commission, said he takes issue with people who jump the gun and blame cops before the facts come to light about such incidents.

“Make no mistake about it, that is a murder weapon, a weapon that was designed to kill more than one person,” Mazzucco said of the TEC-9. “What we should be talking about today is the heroism of the officer.”

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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