San Francisco’s 40th annual pride celebrations were marred late on Saturday night by a shooting incident in the Castro district which left a 19-year old man dead. Two other people, a man and a woman, were also hit by gunfire but are expected to make a full recovery.
According to the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s Office, the dead man was identified as Stephen Powell.
The incident took place at around 11.30pm in the Castro district, a neighbourhood which has been heavily populated with gay men and lesbians since the 1960s. The streets were thronging with partygoers celebrating ‘Pink Saturday’ when an unidentified man pulled out a gun and began firing.
Witnesses described a scene of chaos, in which police officers rushed into the crowd, who in response to the sound of gunfire, began to throw bottles and other objects.
One partygoer from Los Angeles told Californiabeat.org, “I saw a massive wave of cops with their guns drawn coming to our area . . . then people started screaming and running away so I went back to the ground thinking ‘Oh my God, this is real.’”
The gunman was arrested at the scene and his weapon taken for evidence. Police have stated that they do not believe the incident was a hate crime, and that the perpetrator, in all likeliness, knew at least one of his victims.