San Francisco slayings outpacing last year’s record tally

Jason de la Cruz made a friend just before he was gunned down in the Sunset district early Saturday morning — the man serving him some late-night munchies.

“He was a nice guy,” said a man working the counter at Irving Pizza, who declined to give his name. “He was more than polite, and he gave me a big tip.”

De la Cruz, 31, described as a large man with a shaved head, and his friend Derek Butch, 23, were two of four men killed Saturday morning in a weekend that saw the homicide rate outpace last year’s decade-high tally.

The two were drinking at a nearby sports bar, according to police. As last call approached, they went to Irving Pizza, near the intersection of 19th Avenue and Irving Street. After buying a slice, de la Cruz and Butch got into an argument with a group outside, and about 2:30 a.m. one man pulled out a gun and fired several shots.

“Before we knew it, we saw people just fighting, and a gun was drawn,” the Irving Pizza employee said. “We heard the shots and that was it.”

The suspect is described as an Asian man in his early 20s with a thin build. He has short dark hair spiked in the front and was last seen wearing a black-and-orange San Francisco Giants jacket and blue jeans, according to police.

The double-homicide was the second reported within 45 minutes. On the other end of The City, in the Excelsior neighborhood, two men were gunned down about 1:50 a.m., according to police.

Ernad Joldic, 21, of Daly City, was pronounced dead at the scene, and the second victim, whose family had not been notified by Sunday evening, died later at San Francisco General Hospital.

On Sunday, with the homicide rate rising, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom renewed a pledge to put more officers on the streets. He told reporters that federal funding should provide crime-fighting relief in tough budgetary times.

There have been 27 homicides reported in San Francisco so far in 2008. At this time in 2007, there were 24 homicides reported.

Neither of the double homicides took place within the five zones police have targeted under a new policy to get tough on certain areas of The City. The new policy calls on officers from other stations to do shifts in high crime areas such as Bayview-Hunters Point, South of Market and the Mission district.

bbegin@examiner.com

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