Jorge “George” Hurtado should be in a San Francisco State University classroom today. It’s the first day of his second semester. Instead, a barrage of bullets in Hispanic gang territory Sunday morning took the 18-year-old’s life in what his family is calling a targeted attack.
Hurtado’s killer was in a dark sports utility vehicle that approached Hurtado at 23rd and Treat streets about 1:30 a.m., according to police. A Hispanic man in the vehicle yelled “Sur 13,” a Sureño gang offshoot known to have a presence in San Francisco County jail, before firing several times at Hurtado and fleeing, police said.
Hurtado rarely went out late at night, his sister Blanca Otero said, because he knew the dangers of walking the fine line that divides Sureño and Norteño gang territories. But the young man spent his last night of summer break with an old friend at the movies. They were walking from the 24th Street BART station toward his home on Bryant Street when he was fatally shot, The City’s 67th official homicide of the year.
Hurtado’s companion was unhurt, and Hurtado was talking to his girlfriend on the phone when he was approached. According to those witnesses, the shooter was no older than a teenager, and he knew Hurtado by name, Otero said.
“He walked right up to him and shook his hand. He said, ‘What’s up George?’ Then he shot him — nine to 10 times in the chest,” Otero said.
Hurtado’s family members are pleading for more witnesses to come forward. They said the young man was adamantly against the gang lifestyle, a theme that would live on in his poetry and rap lyrics.
As a student at June Jordan Academy, Hurtado polished his writing in the Young Artists at Work program at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. After graduating from high school in 2007, Hurtado went on to San Francisco State University, where he was pursuing a career in sound production and writing.
In his home, Hurtado would record songs with his friends in a makeshift music studio in his closet. Some of his friends had the hardened look of the neighborhood, Otero said, but Hurtado would always insist that guests greet his mother.
The killing is the second in the Mission district since early Friday morning, when Samuel Mitchell, 47, was shot to death at 26th and Folsom streets. At the same time last year, there were 71 homicides recorded.
For Hurtado’s family, a mother and father who immigrated from Mexico and four siblings who were born and raised in The City, the killing was more than just a statistic; it was a result of the violence that continues to plague residents of the Mission.
“It’s really rough being pretty much any race in this neighborhood,” Otero said.