Mike Koozmin/S.F. ExaminerRoy Mottini sits in Caffe Trieste Monday afternoon

Mike Koozmin/S.F. ExaminerRoy Mottini sits in Caffe Trieste Monday afternoon

North Beach neighborhood fixture unshaken by shooting

Arriving as he does every day for the 6:30 a.m. opening, Roy Mottini is Caffe Trieste's most regular customer. But on Monday, he was about an hour late.

Mottini had a good excuse: Not 16 hours before, he had been shot.

The day after he took a bullet to the shoulder from a still-unknown assailant at the corner of Columbus Avenue and Vallejo Street, Mottini was the talk of the tight-knit North Beach.

It figures, since the neighborhood fixture has a longstanding relationship with the police, politicians, poets and others who frequent the legendary Trieste — despite a mental illness that sometimes leads to Mottini showering friends with verbal abuse and, at least once, smashing the shop's window with a fist. But the San Francisco native who is believed to be in his late 60s is mostly known as a harmless eccentric with a severe case of paranoid schizophrenia and exactly one vice — thrift-store clothes.

Discharged from San Francisco General Hospital on Sunday evening, Mottini was in good enough spirits to hold court at the coffee shop Monday afternoon, sporting a purple bruise under an eye and four stitches sealing a gash near his left ear on top of the gunshot wound.

Mottini said he doesn't remember getting shot. He does remember what happened just before.

Mottini was headed south on Columbus Avenue, crossing Vallejo Street with the aid of his cane about 2:30 p.m. Sunday when he started yelling racial epithets at a young black man driving a silver Mazda SUV stopped at a red light at the intersection, according to witnesses and Mottini's own recollection.

“I yelled at him, 'Roy, stop doing that before somebody kills you,' or something to that effect,” said Kim Burrafato, one of the Trieste baristas. “And not five seconds after I yelled it …”

That's exactly what almost happened.

After Mottini took a swing at the car with his cane, the man exited the vehicle and hit Mottini in the side of the face with a handgun.

Mottini then raised his cane to swat the gun away when he was shot, said Chris Holden, who was sitting outside at the corner at the time of the incident.

The bullet shattered a window at Buster's, the cheesesteak shop at the corner.

The motorist sped away up Vallejo Street, past the Central Police Station and toward Oakland, where on Monday police recovered the SUV, which was reported stolen, San Francisco Officer Grace Gatpandan said.

As for Mottini? He wandered up to the coffee shop, yelling and swearing and demanding a place to sit down. It was the responding paramedics who informed him of the bullet wound, Burrafato said.

On Monday, in true village fashion, he sat and received well-wishes from friends and acquaintances as well as total strangers and the local police captain, who arranged for Mottini a ride home to his Broadway residential hotel.

He rode shotgun.

Bay Area NewsCrimeCrime & CourtsNorth BeachRoy MottiniShooting

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Cities including San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley are calling for large grocery and drug store chains to pay employees hazard pay for working during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Shutterstock)
SF proposes $5 hazard pay law for grocery, drug store workers

San Francisco may soon join the growing number of cities requiring large… Continue reading

Hikers walk along a closed stretch of Twin Peaks Boulevard on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFMTA board to vote on future of Twin Peaks Boulevard

The proposal would keep Burnett Avenue gate closed to vehicles, open Portola Drive

Kindergarten teacher Jennifer Klein collects crayons from students in the classroom at Lupine Hill Elementary School on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020 in Calabasas, California. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Newsom, legislators strike deal to reopen California schools

Taryn Luna and John Myers Los Angeles Times Gov. Gavin Newsom and… Continue reading

A sign about proposed development of the bluff at Thornton State Beach in Daly City on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Retreat center proposed at popular state beach

Daly City residents oppose construction on ocean bluffs

City supervisors are calling for an expansion of free summer programs for elementary age kids. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Supervisors urge city to provide free summer programs for all SFUSD students

San Francisco supervisors on Monday announced a proposal to expand summer programs… Continue reading

Most Read