DA: Homeless man was fatally stabbed in broad daylight with machete-style knife

The killing was the sixth reported homicide in San Francisco this year

A 44-year-old homeless man was lying in a pool of blood when police pulled up near the iconic sign at Fisherman’s Wharf last Wednesday.

Moments earlier, Brook Pettyjohn had been stabbed repeatedly in broad daylight and slashed with a machete style-knife.

Prosecutors say Bruce Penn, 56, thrust the blade “completely into” his body during an altercation that was captured on surveillance video.

Assistant District Attorney Adam Maldonado described the homicide in graphic detail in a motion seeking to detain Penn without bail.

“Mr. Pettyjohn stumbles for a few moments as blood begins squirting from his wound,” Maldonado said. “His body then falls lifelessly to the ground.”

Pettyjohn, a local homeless man known to sleep around the Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood, was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead.

Police arrested Penn several blocks away and booked him into County Jail. He pleaded not guilty to murder Tuesday.

A deputy public defender assigned to the case did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The killing was the sixth reported homicide in San Francisco this year and came amid a spate of violence, including a double shooting that happened near Fisherman’s Wharf over the weekend.

In court documents, Maldonado said Penn and Pettyjohn were involved in a physical altercation that began when they fist-bumped each other.

Maldonado said Penn got angry when Pettyjohn bearhugged him. Penn allegedly threw multiple punches and a kick, but slipped and fell to the ground during what may have been mutual combat.

When he got up, Maldonado said Penn “squared-up” and tried to fight Pettyjohn. But when Pettyjohn refused and walked away, Penn allegedly pulled out the knife from a nearby bag and stabbed him in the abdomen.

“When Mr. Pettyjohn back-pedaled following the stabbing, the defendant advanced toward him with the knife this time slashing at Mr. Pettyjohn’s body,” Maldonado said.

Penn then allegedly stabbed Pettyjohn underneath the armpit and through the center of his body.

Penn is currently being held at County Jail.

He is scheduled to return to court April 19.

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

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