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Suspect in Visitacion Valley elderly assault allegedly linked to multiple crimes

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The suspect involved with the brutal beating of an 88-year old grandmother in Visitacion Valley on Jan. 8 was also the suspect in a carjacking and multiple cell phone robberies, police officials said Wednesday.

DNA evidence from the assault and robbery on Jan. 8 of Yik Oi Huang and the tracking of one of the stolen cell phones, led to the identification and arrest of 18-year old Keonte Gathron.

Huang was found severely beaten to death at a nearby park at Leland Avenue by Gathron who then stole her keys to rob her home, police said. Gathron left behind gloves, which were sent to the crime lab, said police Commander Greg McEachern.

On Jan. 18, the DNA analysis identified Gathron as a suspect of the assault of Huang and the robbery of her home. Gathron was already in the system as he had prior incidents with the police as a juvenile.

Gathron was also identified as a suspect for a Jan. 16 carjacking, which occurred on the 1600 block of Visitacion Valley Avenue. The victim’s stolen vehicle was found abandoned at a gas station on San Bruno Avenue.

Surveillance video at the scene showed Gatheron as the carjacking suspect, investigators said.

Days later on Jan. 19, investigators said Gatheron was the suspect in robbing a 14-year old girl’s cell phone while riding on red bike. Later in day, Gathron punched a 17-year old girl in the face and stole her cell phone.

McEachern said officers from the Ingleside Station were able to track the last stolen phone and in the Sunnydale neighborhood where officers were able to locate Gathron and made an arrest based of the clothing description described by the victims who had their cell phones stolen.

Board of Supervisors President Norman Yee said while the community is feeling somewhat relieved that police arrested a suspect, he said the community fears it could happen again.

Yee said he and District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton are working together to find more resources to have more officers on foot patrol, a mobile command center, and the installation of cameras in the area:

“Cameras really do help capture somebody, but it also prevents things. When people know that there are cameras staring right at you on the streets, they will think really a moment before they do anything and maybe they’ll say ‘It’s not worth it.’”

Police Chief Bill Scott said that was he disturbed by the alleged actions of Gatheron:

Who does that? We have an 88-year old grandmother to get brutally beaten. A 14-year old child robbed at gunpoint. I can’t make a personal assessment about this individual, but what I can say is his actions speak to somebody that doesn’t value human life very much.”

Rex Tabora, executive director of the Asian American Community Center, said he would like to see more bilingual officers because many residents are monolingual.

Gathron’s charges include attempted murder, kidnapping, robbery, aggravated assault, elder abuse, burglary, possession of stolen property, attempting to destroy evidence, and child endangerment.

Huang remains at San Francisco Zuckerberg General Hospital in critical condition.

Jerold Chinn

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