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Parents want gay son’s San Francisco death case reopened

“We want to know what happened to our son, period, but we also want an investigation because it’s what’s right for Jaxon, when someone dies”

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Jaxon Sales via Facebook

By John Ferrannini | SAN FRANCISCO – Almost 40,000 people have signed a petition asking San Francisco city agencies to reopen the investigation into the death of a 20-year-old gay man, while the offices in question deny accusations that they didn’t do a thorough job.

Angie and Jim Sales launched the petition following the death almost two years ago of their son, Jaxon Sales. He died March 2, 2020 in a Rincon Hill apartment, according to a copy of the medical examiner’s report obtained by the Bay Area Reporter.

The Sales family is alleging that the San Francisco Police Department and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner didn’t do due diligence in investigating the circumstances of Jaxon Sales’ death. They are currently “in the process” of securing an attorney and are planning on filing a complaint before March 2 of this year, according to Angie Sales.

The medical examiner’s report lists the cause of Jaxon Sales’ death as acute mixed drug intoxication, including gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid, cocaine, and methamphetamine. The manner of death is listed as an accident.

The report also says Jaxon Sales suffered from asthma, and the toxicology report shows Sales took ephedrine, an asthma medication, though this was not listed among the drugs to which death was attributed.

According to the report, Jaxon Sales, a resident of Oakland, went to the San Francisco apartment of an acquaintance and a friend to have sex. The friend, whose name is not in the medical examiner’s report, left the residence, leaving Sales with the acquaintance. The acquaintance, whose name is not in the medical examiner’s report, said that at 6:30 a.m. he heard Sales snoring on the bed, but as he was getting ready for work an hour later he tried to awake Sales but was unsuccessful.

Emergency services were called, and Sales was pronounced dead at 7:52 a.m. Sales was found lying on the floor face-up.

Officer Adam Lobsinger, a public information officer with the SFPD, told the B.A.R. in a statement that after an investigation, the agency didn’t find evidence of a homicide.

“On 3/2/[20] at approximately 7:53 a.m. officers responded to the 300 block of Fremont St. regarding a report of a deceased person,” Lobsinger stated. “Officers arrived on scene and met with medics who were on scene and declared an adult male deceased inside a residence. Officers conducted an investigation and did not find evidence of foul play. The medical examiner arrived on scene and conducted an investigation.”

The Sales family states that Jaxon Sales had texted at 11 p.m. the previous night that he’d be home that night.

“Jaxon never came home from that date,” the petition states. “Every parent’s nightmare became our reality. We were told to wait for the police and medical examiner’s reports to get any information. Those reports were finally sent to us months later after repeated follow-up. Only then did we learn that our vibrant, hardworking, gay, Asian American son was found naked and dead in the bed of a 41-year-old white male whom Jaxon did not know.”

According to the Sales family, an official with the medical examiner’s office told them “no investigation is needed as ‘the gay community uses GHB,'” a statement they say is discriminatory.

“We believe that if Jaxon was heterosexual, both the SFPD and the SF OCME would have fully investigated the circumstances of our son’s death,” the petition states.

The petition goes on to state that the Sales family wants the medical examiner’s office and the police to reopen the case to investigate several issues they say are unresolved, including but not limited to why the acquaintance showered and cleaned his residence before calling 911, why nobody was questioned about possessing illegal drugs, why the mutual friend of Sales and the acquaintance were not questioned.

The family also alleges that the acquaintance’s apartment was the site of another overdose just prior to Jaxon Sales’ death.

“When Jaxon’s uncle picked up Jaxon’s belongings at the SF OCME on March 3, 2020, the representative at the office told him about another overdose (non-fatal) at that male’s apartment only one week prior to Jaxon’s,” the petition states. “A recent prior overdose in that apartment raises a huge red flag. Why hasn’t that overdose victim been questioned?”

The family also wants the police to investigate any connection between the acquaintance and the owner of a phone number who exchanged 38 texts with Jaxon Sales the day before his death.

Angie Sales told the B.A.R. that they only decided to start the change.org petition after not getting satisfactory responses from authorities.

“We tried for so long this past year to get the agencies to work with us to reopen the case,” she said.

She said that the family felt the petition could rally the public to put pressure on the city to do that.

“We had done this for so long alone that we felt sharing his [Jaxon Sales’s] story would allow us to honestly get support in places and from people we didn’t know existed,” Angie Sales said. “We saw from other petitions just how much public support there can be in cases like this.”

“I felt we did this for so long alone, trying to get our answers, and we were refused any real investigation and had no communication at all,” she added. “Nobody replied after repeated follow-ups, then when they did, they said they wouldn’t investigate.”

GAPA, the GLBTQ+ Asian Pacific Alliance, sent an email to supporters promoting the petition.

“Jaxon deserves justice, not just to have the suspicious circumstances of his death left as unanswered questions,” the email states. “We agree that SF OCME’s verbal statement that no further investigation is needed as ‘the gay community uses GHB’ is discriminatory based on Jaxon’s sexual orientation. We also agree that the death of a gay Asian male deserves and should receive the same scrutiny as in any other sudden or suspicious death.”

Police, medical examiner say investigation was thorough

The B.A.R. put the Sales family’s questions to the police and the medical examiner.

Officer Robert Rueca, another public information officer with the SFPD, did not answer the questions specifically, but gave a blanket statement that the department is not going to conduct a criminal investigation in these circumstances, because the medical examiner’s office didn’t suspect foul play at any point.

“This death investigation is led by the [office of the chief medical examiner] and they determine the cause of death (i.e. overdose, etc.) for death investigations. We do not conduct a criminal investigation if there is no evidence of foul play, which we investigate at every scene of a death,” Rueca stated. “If the OCME suspects foul play at any point in their investigation, our investigators would conduct a homicide investigation.

“For this death investigation officers did not find evidence of foul play during the initial investigation and the OCME did not find evidence of foul play,” Rueca stated. “If there was an overdose in the same location that did not result in a death or involved a crime, medics may have responded to this. We do not investigate or respond to medical calls.”

David Serrano Sewell, the chief operating officer at the medical examiner’s office, wouldn’t confirm or deny “the gay community uses GHB” remark, but denied that Jaxon Sales’ sexual orientation was a factor in determining the death was not a homicide.

“The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner expresses our deepest condolences to the family of Jaxon Sales,” he stated. “The OCME conducted a thorough forensic investigation to certify the cause and manner of death in this case with the highest degree of competence, professionalism, compassion, and consistent with state law. A decedent’s sexual orientation, race, religion, or other factors do not influence our death investigations or conclusions. Details of our analysis are in the business records that we provided to you, and we have no further information to share.”

Sewell stated he could not answer the other questions “as they are outside the scope of our forensic death investigation.”

District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney, a straight ally in whose district Sales died, told the B.A.R. January 31 that his office reached out to the family.

“We reached out to the family and Honey Mahogany from my office met with them today,” Haney stated. “The family is understandably very distressed by the lack of follow up and lack of answers. We are reaching out to all the city departments involved, and I will do everything I can to support the family in getting answers for their son and a full investigation.”

Mahogany, a queer, nonbinary trans person who is a legislative aide to Haney, told the B.A.R. that “I would hope that at least in San Francisco, someone’s sexual orientation doesn’t automatically rule them out as a potential victim of sexual assault.”

“I am deeply sorry for the horrific experience the Aquino-Sales family is going through,” Mahogany stated, referring to Angie Sales’ maiden name. “I think that their questions and frustrations with how their son’s case has been handled are completely understandable. It does not seem that this case has received the scrutiny it should have given the circumstances of his death.”

Mahogany believes that the family needs their questions answered so that everyone can have a clear picture of what happened that night. Referring to the potential of a sexual assault, she stated, “I’m not saying this is what has happened here.”

“But it’s very clear to me that at the very least there should have been some basic investigation work and follow up,” Mahogany continued. “I’m not sure why they would not more thoroughly investigate the death of a young person who died in someone else’s bed with GHB in his system. Just because the drug has been used recreationally by some, does not negate the fact that this is also commonly known as the date-rape drug. We will do everything we can to help the family get the answers they deserve.”

‘Not acceptable’

In response to these statements, Jim Sales said, “It’s the same blanket statement they gave us when we met with them — even down to the condolences.”

Angie Sales said the statements were “not acceptable.”

“Our goal is a proper and thorough investigation,” she said. “We want to know what happened to our son, period, but we also want an investigation because it’s what’s right for Jaxon, when someone dies.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact the SFPD at 415-575-4444 or Text a Tip to TIP411 and begin the message with SFPD.

Updated, 2/2/22: This article has been updated with comments from Honey Mahogany. It was also updated to include more info from the medical examiner’s report.

Updated, 2/4/22 :

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John Ferrannini is the Assistant News Editor, of The Bay Area Reporter, San Francisco, California

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The preceding article was originally published by The Bay Area Reporter and is republished by permission.

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San Francisco

Shooting on Muni Train in San Francisco’s LGBTQ+ Castro neighborhood

One victim was pronounced dead at the scene. The other victim was transported to a hospital The suspect fled from the train remains at large

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San Francisco police Officer Kathryn Winters speaks with media about shooting on the Muni Train (Screenshot/YouTube ABC7 News)

SAN FRANCISCO – A shooting on a Muni Train between the Forest Hill and Castro stations killed one person and seriously injured another Wednesday morning at around 10:00AM NBC Bay Area reported.

The gun violence, which occurred as Pride Week festivities are cranking up in the city rattled the LGBTQ+ community, however s spokesperson for the San Francisco Police Department indicated that investigators do not believe that that the gunman was targeting the community.

“I also want to assure the community that this incident does not appear to have any connection to Pride events or does not appear to target the LGBTQ community,” San Francisco police Officer Kathryn Winters said. “We really want to make sure that our community members and visitors who are in town for Pride week understand that.”

According to Winters one victim was pronounced dead at the scene. The other victim was transported to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The suspect fled from the train at the Castro station and remains at large. Winters told NBC Bay Area the shooting appeared to be an isolated incident.

Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) released the following statement regarding the shooting:

“The shooting that occurred on the Muni subway near Castro Station — a subway ride I’ve taken thousands of times over the past 25 years — is a horrific tragedy. It’s another reminder that as long as our country is awash in guns, shootings can happen anywhere, anytime. My heart goes out to the victims, and I know SFPD is working hard to apprehend the shooter. We must recommit as a nation to end the easy availability of guns. California has the strongest gun safety laws in the nation, and we’re continuing to strengthen them. But we need strong action from Congress to truly improve the safety of our community.”

It wasn’t immediately known if the suspect and victims knew each other. SFPD are investigating any potential connections and are also looking into what led up to the shooting.

Anyone who witnessed the shooting is asked to contact San Francisco police.

Muni subway service between the West Portal and Castro stations has been stopped, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency said.

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San Francisco

Out State Sen. Scott Wiener receives death threat, police investigate

This is another example of growing attacks on LGBTQ people around the country & are a direct result of hateful, anti-LGBTQ political rhetoric

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State Senator Scott Wiener (D-SF) (Los Angeles Blade file photo)

SAN FRANCISCO – Police executed a search of California State Senator Scott Wiener’s San Francisco home Sunday and his legislative offices in Sacramento with bomb dogs after a senior staffer received a credible death threat targeting the openly gay Democratic lawmaker.

The threat against Wiener came during LGBTQ+ Pride month and on a weekend of threats of violence against the LGBTQ+ community. The threat was sent in an email to one of the senator’s principal aides who in turn notified Wiener at which point the authorities were engaged.

WARNING: The following image’s language is graphic:

Screenshot of threat (redacted)

Both the San Francisco Police Department and California Highway Patrol are investigating the threat, the SFPD’s public information officer Officer Kathryn Winters told the Blade.

“This is an ongoing investigation which is being handled by the California Highway Patrol and the San Francisco Police Department Special Investigations Division, and we work with agencies such as the CHP in response to incidents such as this,” Winters said.

 “I’ve been getting death threats for years as a result of our work to advance the civil rights of LGBTQ people and people living with HIV. I’m not going to stop doing that work no matter what threats people make. This is just another example of the growing attacks we’re seeing on LGBTQ people around the country — including this past weekend in Idaho and San Lorenzo. These attacks are a direct result of the hateful, anti-LGBTQ political rhetoric coming from right-wing politicians and activists. Words have consequences,”  Wiener said in a statement.

The Proud Boys, a right-wing extremist group whose membership espouse hate-filled anti-gay/anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric disrupted a Drag Queen Story Hour event at the San Lorenzo Library located on Paseo Grande in Alameda County, California Saturday afternoon.

Lt. Ray Kelly, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer said a that group of men described as members of the Proud Boys organization, entered the during library its “Drag Queen Story Time” event and made “homophobic and transphobic remarks against a member of the LGTBQ+ community who was hosting the event.”

Witnesses reported that the men began to shout homophobic and transphobic slurs at the event organizer, drag queen Panda Dulce. The men were described as extremely aggressive with a threatening violent demeanor causing people to fear for their safety. Alameda County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the library and were able to de-escalate the situation.

Kelly indicated that there was an active hate crime investigation as a result of the actions of the five Proud Boys. According to Kelly, in addition to drag queen organiser Panda Dulce there were parents and minor children also present.

Senator Wiener tweeted Sunday:

In the second incident mentioned by Wiener in his Sunday tweet, at the end of last week heavily armed Coeur d’Alene police officers and Kootenai County Sheriff’s deputies in riot gear arrested armed anti-LGBTQ+ protestors, and a few self-labeled ‘street preachers’ who were attempting to disrupt the “Pride in the Park” in Coeur d’Alene City Park which returned after a two-year hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Associated Press reported that Coeur d’Alene police officers and Kootenai County Sheriff’s deputies arrested 31 people who had face coverings, white-supremacist insignia, shields and an “operations plan” to riot near an LGBTQ Pride event on Saturday afternoon. Lee White, the police chief of the Coeur d’Alene police department said those arrested were affiliated with Patriot Front, a white-supremacist group whose founder was among those arrested.

Patriot Front was once known as Vanguard America (VA), one of the main organizers of the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in 2017.

Authorities received a tip about a “little army” loading into a U-Haul truck at a hotel Saturday afternoon, said Lee. Local and state law enforcement pulled over the truck about 10 minutes later, White said at a news conference.

Many of those arrested were wearing logos representing Patriot Front, which rebranded after one of its members plowed his car into a crowd of people protesting the white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, killing Heather Heyer and injuring dozens.

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San Francisco

Newsom announces former San Francisco First Lady Gina Moscone died

“Gina learned about the assassination on the car radio- To this day his mother keeps her grief mostly to herself, rarely talking about it”

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Former SF Mayor George Moscone & wife Gina (Undated family photo. Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific)

SAN FRANCISCO – On the morning of Nov. 27, 1978 the typically frenetic pace of the Moscone household was even more pronounced as Christopher, his brother Jonathan and sisters Jenifer and Rebecca were getting ready for school while father George was running late to get to his office.

Overseeing the bustle was George’s devoted wife Gina quietly fixing breakfast and prodding the mayhem associated with teenagers and family members along.

Little did anyone in the Moscone home realize that in just a few short hours life was going to take an abrupt and terrible turn as George, who happened to be the Mayor of the City of San Francisco, would be assassinated in his office by former San Francisco Supervisor Dan White.

George Moscone with Supervisor Harvey Milk died in a hail of bullets, dying separately in their offices on the second floor of City Hall. Milk, an openly gay man and Moscone an ally of the LGBTQ+ community had forged political bonds that proved to be beneficial to the City’s LGBTQ population.

In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle’s web portal SFGate published Nov. 23, 1998, twenty years after the murders, Christopher Moscone spoke about the effect of the events had on his mother and family.

For Christopher, his brother and his sisters, it was the end of one life, and the beginning of another.

Like his siblings, Christopher divides his life into two parts. The first part is until he was 16. When his dad — a St. Ignatius all-city basketball star in his day — played basketball with him, made him drink a raw egg, milk and coffee before games, flattened his hair in the morning with the water-and- comb technique, left him notes on the breakfast table with pointers about his game.

“He had a passionate love for us. He was always kissing us on the cheek, wanting us to kiss him, always embracing us — even when we had friends over and it could be embarrassing. . . . It seems like a lifetime ago.”

Then there is the second part of his life — after the killing. His mother, Gina, and the mayor’s mother, Lena, learned about the assassination on the car radio as they returned from a funeral. To this day, he said, his mother keeps her grief mostly to herself, rarely talking about it.

Gina Moscone’s passage was announced by California Governor Gavin Newsom, a former Mayor of the City of San Francisco. No details were released but in a statement the Governor paid tribute to Mrs. Moscone:

“Jennifer and I are saddened to hear of the passing of Gina Moscone. San Francisco will long remember her as a charming, gracious First Lady and a Trustee on the War Memorial Board, a person who gave so much to the City she grew up in and loved so much. Those who knew her will also remember her as a loving mother who doted on her children, all while remaining a fixture in civic life in San Francisco even after the passing of her beloved husband, George. Our hearts are with the Moscone family today as they grieve their mother.”

The Bay Area Reporter’s Editor,  Cynthia Laird wrote:

Gina Moscone died of cancer at age 91.

Ms. Moscone served for many years on the War Memorial Board, which oversees the management of the War Memorial Opera House, the War Memorial Veterans Building, Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall, and other nearby landmarks. Thomas E. Horn, a gay man and former publisher of the Bay Area Reporter who serves on the board, said he would miss his good friend.

“Gina was a dear friend for more than 40 years,” Horn wrote in an email. “We would go to the opera or ballet and then go to the gay bars on Polk Street. She was full of life. Always happy. Ever vivacious. I will miss her dearly, both as a War Memorial colleague and a best friend.”

Gay state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) paid tribute to Ms. Moscone on Twitter.

“Gina Moscone was a great San Franciscan & fantastic human being,” Wiener wrote. “Her passing is a major loss for our community. Rest In Peace, Mrs. Moscone.”

The Moscones had four children. One of their sons, Jonathan, is a gay man whom Newsom recently appointed director of the California Arts Council, as the B.A.R. previously reported.

War Memorial Trustees Gina Moscone, center, and Thomas E. Horn, right, congratulated incoming War Memorial managing director John Caldon, left, after he was unanimously appointed to the position on May 9, 2019.
Photo by Cynthia Laird
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