Homeless man arrested after hammer attack

A transient man who brutally assaulted another man with a pair of gardening shears and a hammer at San Francisco’s United Nations Plaza on Thursday night was arrested, a police spokeswoman said.

The attack was reported at about 10 p.m. on New Year’s Day near the intersection of Hyde and Fulton streets, according to San Francisco police Officer Grace Gatpandan. Officers arrested 31-year-old Steven Mason, and booked him into jail on two counts of assault with a deadly weapon and one count of assault with a deadly weapon causing great bodily injury.

He was also arrested for being in violation of a 150-yard stay-away order from UN Plaza, Gatpandan said. Police said the Mason, a white man, yelled a racial slur at a 51-year-old black man and then struck the victim in the head with a pair of gardening shears and a hammer.

The victim was transported to San Francisco General Hospital with potential traumatic brain injury as a result of the blows to his head and lacerations to his ear and eye, police said.

Gatpandan said that the attack was initially being investigated as a hate crime, but that there is no evidence in the investigation so far proving that the suspect targeted the victim based on their actual or perceived race, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, disability or gender.

Gatpandan said that just because someone is yelling slurs as they commit a crime doesn’t necessarily classify the incident as a hate crime. The victim was released from the hospital shortly after the attack, according to Gatpandan. The motive for the attack remains under investigation.