"We've got to remove the word 'snitch' from our vocabulary," said the woman, who asked not to be identified because she fears retaliation.
Police would not confirm if they received information from the woman, who lives near where two motorcycle officers pulled over Lovelle Mixon on Saturday afternoon for what they thought was a routine traffic stop. But police have said a tipster told them about the apartment where they found the 26-year-old parolee.
Crying at times, the tipster said she was devastated by the rampage that began when Mixon shot Sgt. Mark Dunakin, 40, and Officer John Hege, 41, with a pistol shortly after being pulled over at 74th Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard.
She said she was compelled to do something many people in her neighborhood won't do: help the police.
As police descended on the neighborhood that afternoon, the tipster said, she walked to MacArthur to see what the commotion was about. She saw the burgundy Buick that was at the center of attention and recognized it.
The woman said she was hesitant at first to be seen in public telling officers what she knew: that the driver's sister, Enjoli Mixon, lived with her 4-year-old daughter in a two-bedroom, ground-level apartment at 2755 74th Ave., just a block from where the motorcycle officers were shot.
Finally, the woman said, she found an opportunity to give her information to an officer she recognized.
Police said they had concluded the lives of people in the three-story apartment building could be at risk, and that they couldn't afford to barricade the building and try to wait out the suspect. They also said that because of the location of Enjoli Mixon's unit, there was no way to ensure that other residents could be brought through the door to the street safely.
Residents of the 10-unit building said Monday that they wished police had tried to warn them of the impending raid in some way. One man, 62-year-old Robert Moore, said his only contact with police occurred when he peeked out his bathroom window.
The officer swore at him and told him to make his hands visible, Moore said. He said he swore back and slammed the window shut.
SWAT officers soon raided the apartment, bashing in the door while throwing nonlethal shock grenades. Two more officers, Sgts. Ervin Romans, 43, and Daniel Sakai, 35, were killed there by Mixon, who fired an assault rifle from a closet. Another SWAT officer, Sgt. Pat Gonzales, was wounded. Three other officers returned fire and killed Mixon.
Enjoli Mixon wasn't home, but her 16-year-old sister was there. She suffered minor injuries from the grenades.
Although the woman who said she was a tipster declined to be identified, she said she hated the fact that helping police in some neighborhoods is considered dangerous.
She said she has been in trouble with the law in the past, but that on Saturday, "I wish I would have been a police officer."
The woman's neighborhood was a hive of activity and raw emotion Monday as people struggled to make sense of the killings. A memorial with five U.S. flags, one for each of the five officers who were shot, stood near the spot where the motorcycle officers fell.
Outside the apartment that SWAT officers stormed, a memorial for Mixon had flowers, candles and balloons. Notes read, "RIP Vell," " Money$" and "We gone miss u big cuzn." A plainclothes police officer went up to it at one point, stared at it for a second and then walked away, shaking his head.
Crisis outreach workers spoke to people on a corner, and less than an hour later, activists handed out flyers that invited people to a rally where they would "uphold the resistance" of "Brother Lovelle Mixon."
Many people rejected that sentiment, saying they were touched that officers had given their lives protecting others. They said they didn't understand why some were defending Mixon.
Police nailed a piece of plywood over the doorway of Mixon's sister's apartment early Monday morning, sealing it off. But curious neighbors pried it open and went inside to look around - infuriating Enjoli Mixon, who showed up later.
One neighbor, who admitted he yanked open the plywood and went inside, said he counted more than a dozen bullet holes in the walls inside the apartment. There was blood in every room, he said. The hallway outside was also scarred by apparent bullet ricochets.
Asked why he had gone into someone else's home, the man said, "I wanted to see if it was an overkill."
This article appeared on page A - 9 of the San Francisco Chronicle