Community activist accused of killing man in retaliation for losing fight

Sauntek Harris faces murder charge in Hunters Point shooting

A Hunters Point community activist allegedly shot and killed a man over the weekend in retaliation after losing a fight against him earlier this summer, prosecutors said Thursday.

The shooting unfolded Saturday night outside a community center at Oakdale public housing when Dietrich Whitley, 34, approached 38-year-old Sauntek Harris with his hands in his pockets.

Harris, who prosecutors say works as a life coach at the community center, ducked between two cars. But when Whitley continued toward him, Harris allegedly fired six shots.

Whitley was struck in the chest and arm. He fell down an embankment and died.

Harris ran back into the community center and was not arrested until two days later in Concord, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

The shooting marked the 24th homicide of the year in San Francisco and the first in just over a month, the San Francisco Examiner previously reported.

The killing appears to have been the result of bad blood between the two men. Two months earlier, prosecutors say Whitley beat up Harris during a fight.

Whitley was arrested on suspicion of assault but the District Attorney’s Office declined to charge the case. Prosecutors say Harris had slashed Whitley with a knife.

Harris appeared in court for the first time Thursday on murder, assault and illegal gun possession charges. He has previously been convicted of felony drug and firearms charges.

A woman who came to the hearing said she considered Harris family. The woman, who asked only to be identified by her nickname “Yaya,” said Harris is a father who lives in Concord but grew up in Oakdale.

“He’s a very helpful person,” she said. “He always lends a helping hand.”

The woman said Whitley and Harris had known each other for a long time. She alleged that Whitley, who was known as “Snoop,” had been harassing Harris.

“He was antagonizing him,” she said.

Harris is being represented by the Public Defender’s Office and has not entered a plea.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Christine Van Aken ordered that Harris be held without bail until at least the next court date. He is scheduled to return to court Tuesday morning.

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

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