Suspect in mother’s death shot dead after apartment gun frenzy 

The trigger-happy madman who was killed by a police sharpshooter in a Lower Nob Hill apartment Wednesday night had been wanted in connection with the slaying of his mother in Rohnert Park, police said.

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Dennis Hughes, 41, was shot dead after allegedly barricading himself in his girlfriend’s apartment at
861 Post St. about 9:30 p.m. He also lit items on fire in one of the bedrooms and tried to shoot at cops through the wall, San Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr said.

The gunfire erupted after Rohnert Park police investigators paid a visit to the third-floor apartment about 9 p.m. They wanted to question Hughes regarding 66-year-old Dianne Hughes’ homicide. His mother’s beaten and bloodied body was found in her home Tuesday, police said. Hughes lived with his mother and she was reportedly trying to kick him out.

Hughes’ girlfriend answered the door and seemed “very nervous and anxious,” Rohnert Park Director of Public Safety Brian Masterson said. She was removed from the apartment before the confrontation with Hughes. Though they could not see him, cops spoke with Hughes before he began shooting.

The suspect shot “through the ceiling, the floor, the walls, into adjacent apartments, hallways and staircases,” San Francisco police Lt. Hector Sainez said.

Police backup was called and the building was evacuated, Suhr said. About an hour into the stunning standoff, Hughes set items ablaze in one of the bedrooms.

With bullets flying and a fire burning, Suhr said, two SFPD sharpshooters who were perched in an apartment building south of the scene were given the green light to kill. Hughes was shot dead about 10 p.m. as he was opening a back window to the apartment.

“But for the grace of God,” Suhr said, no one was seriously hurt. One San Francisco cop suffered a minor injury during the standoff, police said.

Two handguns were recovered from the apartment, and Hughes’ girlfriend was being questioned by investigators Thursday.

Mia Romero, 27, who lives in an apartment near to where police shot from, described the standoff as “intense.”
“I see that couple all the time; our windows face each other,” Romero said Thursday. “I just see them walk around and cooking dinner. … I was just, are you kidding? It’s them?”

Romero took cover in her bathroom, while her cat hid under a chair.

The view from Romero’s apartment window Thursday was gruesome, with a waterfall of blood coming down from the window where Hughes was shot.

“It’s kind of a bummer about the window,” said Romero, who moved into the apartment in January. “I hope they clean that up.”

Later Thursday, police reported finding Hughes’ mother’s Toyota Highlander near the Post Street shooting scene. Earlier, they said cops were searching for the vehicle in hopes of finding clues to Dianne Hughes’ killing.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

Recent officer-involved shootings in S.F.

  • On Jan. 4, 2011: Police shot and injured wheelchair-using Randal Dunklin, then 55, who was causing a disturbance outside a South of Market city health clinic.
  • On June 7, 2011: Police fatally shot suspected bank robber Joshua Smith, 25, near Buena Vista Park after he allegedly tried to run them over with his car.
  • On July 16, 2011: Police said Kenneth Harding Jr., 19, shot himself during a gunbattle with police in Mendell Plaza in the Bayview.
  • On June 29, 2011: Police shot and wounded 38-year-old Roselyndo Sicat, who opened fire on them while fleeing in a car on Gough Street.
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