Cafe regular killed in stabbing

Police have arrested an alleged “damsel in distress” defender on suspicion of fatally stabbing a man inside a tiny cafe, authorities said.

Police arrested Carlos Padilla-Ovedio, 25, of San Francisco, on Sunday after they say he stabbed Jesus Hernandez, 33, of Daly City, inside Cafe Durango on 6286 Mission St. around 5 p.m. Friday. Hernandez was stabbed in the torso and taken to San Francisco General Hospital where he died.

Padilla-Ovedio and Hernandez were sitting separately in the seven-stool cafe in Daly City’s Top of the Hill neighborhood and were the only two customers when Hernandez allegedly made rude remarks to a waitress. Lt. Jay Morena said Hernandez has a history of making inappropriate comments at the cafe and has been asked to leave by the manager on previous occasions.

Morena said Padilla-Ovedio apparently came to the waitress’ defense in a “damsel in distress” type situation. Padilla-Ovedio, who had allegedly witnessed the harassment in the past, exchanged words in Spanish with Hernandez, Morena said. As the two stood up, Padilla-Ovedio allegedly stabbed Hernandez once while three cafe workers looked on, and ran out of the shop, fleeing a “pretty gruesome” scene, he said.

Detectives Frank Mangan and Gregg Oglesby worked on the case virtually nonstop since Friday, working off a sketch and a suspect name of “Carlos.” Police released the information to city and airport police as far away as Los Angeles, and checked on board all local flights to Honduras. Eventually, Padilla-Ovedio was spotted in a church in San Francisco’s Ocean Avenue neighborhood.

When police confronted Padilla-Ovedio, a freelance carpet installer fromHonduras, in his Revere Street home, he originally told police in Spanish that the stabbing was an accident, Morena said.

Acquaintances of the victim identified Hernandez as a quiet man who spoke only Spanish and lived just a few blocks from the cafe where he was a regular.

Outside the cafe, which has been closed since the stabbing, were two empty juice bottles that served as makeshift vases for flowers, with a small stuffed rhinoceros sitting between the bottles.

Friends added their tributes to Hernandez on a sign posted on the cafe’s door. Translated from Spanish, one of the messages read: “For a good friend who died for committing the sin of loving a woman that didn’t love him.”

mrosenberg@sfexaminer.com

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