Support For Shaws Victims As New Details Emerge
Quick action from neighbors and community follow-through mitigate events
••••• October 19, 2023 •••••
More details about an assault that injured four people at Shaws, an ice cream and candy shop on West Portal Avenue, came during a recent preliminary hearing and after a significant display of community support.
Parmjit Singh Janda, 39, of San Francisco, is being held without bail and will stand trial on three counts of felony assault and one count of felony elder abuse, with Grievous Bodily Injury enhancements for three of those charges.
If convicted on all counts, he faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in state prison.
Shaw’s owner Diana Zogaric said she had seen Janda sitting around the neighborhood for about a month before the attacks, but she had never seen him talk to anyone. She assumed he was homeless because he had a lot of bags with him, and his clothes were not very clean.
It is alleged that on the afternoon of September 27th, Janda was sitting on the bench in front of her ice cream shop.
“First I asked him to move on my way into the store and he said ‘do you think that God loves you?’ But he said it kind of calmly.”
She tried to play it off as a joke.
“So I said ‘probably not.’ Ha-ha, like that. And I just went in the store.”
When she came back out, she asked him to move again, and that’s when he attacked her, she alleges.
“He said ‘I don’t even know who you are’ and I said ‘well, I own the store’ and that’s about all I got out of my mouth before he shoved me.”
Zogaric said she is aware of the letter-writing campaign and has received other support from the local community, like messages on social media, people stopping by the store saying that they “don’t normally buy candy, but they are buying to show support,” for her and personal gifts as well, like sending meals to her house.”
She hit the back of her head on the pavement “pretty hard” and was taken to the emergency room, but there were no skull fractures or concussions.
The shop manager, Nina Veaco, described the incident at Janda’s preliminary hearing on October 13th.
She testified that she saw Zogaric speak to Janda before entering. Then, inside the shop, they spoke briefly with an elderly customer, “Gracie,” whose full name is not released out of concern for her safety.
Then Zogaric went back outside, and Veaco saw her speak to Janda again.
“And then I witnessed him get up and shove her,” Veaco said.
Prosecutor Jamal Anderson asked Veaco if she saw Janda hit her.
“Yes,” she responded. “Two times and then I started running around the counter and I grabbed the phone to call 911.”
Grabbing a chair with her other hand for “self-defense,” Veaco said she went outside “to do something — anything to help.”
“I saw the gentleman coming back to get his stuff on our bench,” she said. “We had an encounter. I honestly don’t remember what either of us said. There was a lot of screaming involved.”
“I remember he picked up his stuff. He was pointing at me. I pointed back something, and then he just ran for me and punched me in the face.”
She said she was standing in the doorway when he hit her.
“He continued to try to go after me. Luckily, I had the chair, and he fell over the chair, but I was able to run in front. And at that point, we had another customer in the store, Gracie. She was also holding a chair because she’s 80 — an older lady.
“He was on the floor trying to get up, trying to use the chair to get up that she was holding. They were having an interaction and he took the chair and shoved it and she went flying back and into the wall,” Veaco said.
“I remember yelling, ‘arrest this guy’ and some gentlemen came in and immediately started tackling him to get him to stop. But he was not stopping, so more gentlemen came in to subdue him, and I think it took about four or five men to actually get him to stop.”
“They just came in to tackle him. I remember he yelled out ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Please forgive me.’ And more people were coming in and helping, keeping him on the ground as he was trying to get up.”
SF Police Department officer Alejandro Tiffer was among the first responders to the scene, and he testified in court that one of those people, Vernon S. Ng, described hearing a commotion outside from his office in a nearby business and saw a man assaulting a woman.
Tiffer said Ng told him Janda was punching, kicking and pushing Zogaric backward, causing her to fall on the street between two vehicles, and he believed she lost consciousness from the fall.
So, Ng went out to help and saw Janda “lunge” towards Veaco and then trip over a chair.
“And then he stated he was able to place Janda in a rear naked chokehold,” Tiffer testified. “He had told me that he was a trained Jujitsu practitioner,” … though, he alleged, Janda bit Ng on his right wrist.
“He stated that he was able to control Janda through the rear naked chokehold and that Janda had told him ‘I’m sorry’ and started to basically give up and stop resisting at that point,” Tiffer said.
“He released his grip on Janda, and other civilians arrived, and he allowed the other individuals to take control of Janda.”
Tiffer said he observed broken skin peeled back on Ng’s wrist.
During cross-examination, Public Defender Stephanie Tan asked Tiffer about Janda’s response to getting identification from him.
“He was kind of erratic. He wasn’t really making any sense. He was kind of all over the place,” Tiffer said. “He was just speaking very loudly at times and blurting out different names at different times.”
In response to further questions from Tan, Tiffer said Janda did not respond to questions logically, seemed disorganized and confused, repeated words and actions, and his speech was frenzied.
Another SFPD officer at the scene, Cristina Cistaro, testified that Janda made odd statements as she put the cuffs on him and placed him in the patrol car.
“He began to say things that I couldn’t quite tell what they were, (not) quite intelligible,” Cistaro said. “I recall he said something about George Washington. He — I think — was talking about his flesh and blood or something of that nature.
“He was saying things that sounded as though he was in tune with what we were asking or telling him and then at other times he would say something that seemed to not have relevance, such as George Washington.”
Deidre Von Rock, president of the West Portal Merchants Association, said sometime after the attacks, she sent out emails asking people to express their concerns and request to the DA that Janda not be released from custody, hoping to avoid his release after a 72-hour hold.
“We were advised by (District 7 Supervisor) Myrna Melgar’s office that if we inundated the DA with letters, they would share them with the judge and that they would keep him, so that’s what we did.”
The San Francisco District Attorney’s office confirms that they have received approximately 45 letters from neighbors in the area.
Zogaric said she is aware of the letter-writing campaign and has received other support from the local community, like messages on social media, people stopping by the store saying that they “don’t normally buy candy, but they are buying to show support,” for her and personal gifts as well, like sending meals to her house.
“It shows what a good community West Portal is,” Zogaric said.
Judge Murlene J. Randle ordered that Janda be held without bail for trial, and his next arraignment is scheduled for October 27th at 850 Bryant Street in Department 22.
Thomas K. Pendergast is a local Westside reporter
October 19, 2023