Man wanted on murder turns himself in, but DA declines to charge

Tony Befford (Courtesy San Francisco Police Department)

A 39-year-old man turned himself in to authorities on Sunday after police obtained a warrant for his arrest in connection with one of two back-to-back slayings in the Bayview.

Tony Befford was booked on suspicion of murder at around 9 p.m. after he surrendered to the County Jail intake facility on Seventh Street, according to the Sheriff’s Department. Police said a judge issued a warrant for his arrest in connection with the killing of 40-year-old Gabriel Powell.

Police need probable cause to obtain an arrest warrant directly from a judge.

Powell was shot and killed Jan. 12 on La Salle Avenue and Newhall Street at around 8:09 p.m., according to police. About 18 hours earlier, 24-year-old Allan Cortez was shot and killed on the same block. At the time, police were investigating whether the killings were connected.

On Tuesday, the District Attorney’s Office declined to charge Befford with murder, citing the need for further investigation, according to a spokesperson for the office. He is expected to be released.

Powell’s family declined to comment Tuesday.

Cortez was shot and killed outside his home. A relative, who requested anonymity out of fear of retaliation, demanded answers for both Cortez and Powell in the days after the violence.

“We want to know what happened,” the relative previously told the San Francisco Examiner. “There’s so many unsolved murders in San Francisco and it shouldn’t be like that for him and the other guy.”

Cortez is remembered as a humble man who worked in construction and lived with his single mother and two younger siblings.

The killings marked San Francisco’s third and fourth homicides of the year. A fifth homicide has been reported since.

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