San Francisco police have arrested a man suspected of shooting and killing a Muni passenger and Southern California native in an attack they are calling "random" and "unprovoked."
Justin Valdez, 20, was a sophomore at San Francisco State University and hails from Garden Grove. He was shot about 9:50 p.m. Monday as he was getting off a Muni light-rail train.
The next day, Nikhom Thephakaysone, 24, was arrested in connection with the slaying and booked on a homicide charge, the San Francisco Police Department announced Wednesday.
Police said the shooting appears to be random and unprovoked, and that the shooter did not know Valdez, who began classes at SF State last fall and had not yet declared a major.
In a statement Wednesday, university president Les Wong said the slaying is a "tragedy for the entire university."
"This is truly a tragedy for Justin's friends and family, and for the entire university community. I have reached out to Justin's family to offer our heartfelt concern, and to assure them that we stand ready to offer support and assistance at this difficult time."
Valdez had attended Garden Grove High School and lived with his uncle, said Steve Osborne, the victim's high school principal.
Osborne recalled a "passionate and persistent" student who was the president of the school's environmental club and a top competitor in the Garden Grove High aquatics program.
While Valdez was a student, he would talk with Osborne frequently to see about changes to the school's recycling program, the principal said. He also pushed tirelessly to establish a "Lights Out Wednesday" program to cut the school's carbon footprint, according to his former principal.
Vigils will be held in Valdez's honor at the high school's pool deck from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sunday. There will be a "Lights Out for Justin Day" in the coming days, Osborne said.
"It's been devastating for teachers who knew him," Osborne said.
Anyone with information in the case is urged to call San Francisco Police Sgt. Gary Watts at 415-734-3114 or the anonymous tip line at 415-575-4444. Citizens may also text a tip at TIP411 and type SFPD in the subject line.
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