Funeral services will be held this week for 28-year-old Alejandro Nieto who was fatally shot at San Francisco’s Bernal Heights Park on March 21, the city’s archdiocese announced today.
Visitation hours will be held on Monday from 3 to 9 p.m. with rosary at 7 p.m. by Father John Jimenez at Driscoll’s Valencia Street Serra Mortuary, located at 1465 Valencia St. in San Francisco, according to the archdiocese’s restorative justice coordinator Julio Escobar.
The funeral mass service will be held at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday at St. Kevin Catholic Church at 704 Cortland Ave. in San Francisco. Following mass, the burial ceremony will be held by Father Jimenez at the Holy Cross Cemetery at 1500 Old Mission Road in Colma, Escobar said.
Donations in the form of a check to assist Nieto’s family are being accepted at: Alejandro Nieto, Chase Bank – Account #3045883401, according to Escobar.
Nieto, a San Francisco native who lived in the city’s Bernal Heights neighborhood, was a security guard who attended City College of San Francisco with aspirations of being a probation officer. He was also a practicing Buddhist, according to friends and family members.
San Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr addressed a rowdy crowd at a town hall meeting last week to explain the sequence of events the day of the shooting.
Suhr said a call came into police at 7:11 p.m. about a man at Bernal Heights Park wearing a bright red jacket with a black handgun on his hip pacing by a chain link fence near a bench.
The chief said the caller described a man eating either chips or sunflower seeds with his hand resting on what looked like a gun.
Officers arrived at the park minutes later, and encountered Nieto with what they believed to be a gun in a holster while standing about 75 feet away with his back against the setting sun.
At the meeting last week, Suhr stood in front of a poster board with photos of a Taser pistol Nieto had on him and the holster he used to carry it. Alongside those images were photos of a real handgun.
The chief said the two weapons could be construed as similar from a distance.
People in the crowd yelled out, “Can’t you tell the difference?” and “That doesn’t look like a gun.”
According to Suhr, when police asked Nieto to show his hands, he responded, “You need to show your hands.”
Suhr said Nieto pointed his weapon at several officers, prompting them to fire multiple rounds at him.
“They fired in defense of their own lives,” Suhr said, eliciting uproar from the audience at the meeting.
Nieto was pronounced dead at the scene. Suhr said he didn’t know how many times Nieto was hit, but he knows more than one bullet struck him.
Suhr said the officers thought Nieto had a firearm on him, but after the incident it was determined that because of mental health reasons Nieto was prohibited from legally owning a gun. He only had a Taser in his possession at the time of the shooting.
San Francisco Police Commission President Thomas Mazzucco said there are multiple investigations being conducted to see if officers used “appropriate force.” The officers involved in the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave.
Hannah Albarazi/Sasha Lekach, Bay City News