Standoff ends in suicide
Man sought in killing of S.F. kickboxing champion shoots self
By Emily Fancher and Amy Yarbrough, STAFF WRITERS
SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO -- A man who had barricaded himself in a motel room since late Sunday night shot and killed himself just after noon Monday, police said.
Officers had been at the Travelodge motel, 326 South Airport Blvd., since about 9 p.m., after receiving a tip that a man wanted in a fatal shooting last week in San Francisco was staying there, said South San Francisco Police Lt. Roy Varney.
Negotiators contacted the man, who had refused to come out of his motel room, but he stopped communicating with them around 6:30 a.m.
At about 12:23 p.m. police heard a single gunshot, and found the man dead beneath a mattress in a neighboring room with a gunshot wound to the head, police said. It appears he had broken through a wall to the adjoining room.
Authorities would not identify the man, but said he was a parolee, and Varney said he was a suspect in the Friday shooting death of Thai-style kickboxer Alex Gong.
San Francisco police seemed more hesitant about making that connection Monday afternoon.
"We do not know if this person was the actual killer," said SFPD spokesman Dewayne Tully. "But what we do know is that there was some evidence left in an abandoned car that indicates there may be a connection between this man and the killing."
San Mateo County coroner's officials did not release the identity of the dead man, but said he was 24 years old. The County coroner said Monday he had not yet reached family members to notify them of the death. Coroner's investigator Robert Bergstrom said Monday night the man apparently died of a self-inflicted wound.
An autopsy is scheduled for today.
Gong, 30, was shot and killed after he chased down and confronted a driver who had crashed into his SUV parked near his San Francisco kickboxing gym.
The suspect's Jeep Cherokee, which was later determined to be stolen from Pacifica last month, was found abandoned at a Chevron station in Millbrae late Friday night.
Sgt. Mike Brosnan said a team of three negotiators who spoke with the man several times throughout the night by phone described his demeanor as "calm and quiet."
Dozens of police officers and SWAT team members surrounded the motel and police evacuated a wing of the motel -- between 12 and 15 rooms -- early this morning.
Around 6:30 a.m., a woman came out of the suspect's room and was questioned by police. Brosnan said she was not a suspect in the case and described the two as having a "friendly relationship."
After hours of failed negotiations, members of the San Mateo County SWAT team broke the window of the room. Later, they threw in a "flash-bang" grenade, which makes noise and emits smoke, to get the man's attention and to "get him talking again," Brosnan said.
Travelodge was planning to have catered food brought in for the displaced guests, some of whom milled about the motel grounds, waiting for word on when they could get back into their rooms.
About 100 to 200 feet away from police, kids and families splashed about in the motel's pool.
Robert Rozar, who was staying at the motel, said he and a co-worker were awakened at 1:30 a.m. and told to leave their room.
"The front desk called us and said, 'There's a police emergency and you need to get out now,'" he said.
Rozar, from San Diego, said he was in the area on a construction job on a local golf course but couldn't get to work because he couldn't get into his room to get his safety gear and equipment.
"We can't go to work because we don't have our stuff," he said. "It's costing us quite a lot of money."
Roman Fan, a Berkeley resident who knew Gong, said he drove to South San Francisco after hearing about the standoff, "to see if it's really him (Gong's shooter) and to get closure."
Gong, who headlined kickboxing fights in Las Vegas and appeared on ESPN, had been working out at Fairtex Muay Thai Camp, a martial arts studio he owned, before he was gunned down.
Police say he was still wearing boxing gloves and trunks when he ran two and a half blocks to catch up with the Jeep's driver, who waited for a traffic signal to turn green before opening fire and speeding away.
Fan, a fellow kickboxer, said Gong had a great heart and was known to help out homeless people near his gym, giving them food and blankets. He called him "a superstar."
Wire services contributed to this report.