Police arrest 'MAGA' hat-wearing suspect in Lower Haight sword attack

Police arrest 'MAGA' hat-wearing suspect in Lower Haight sword attack
Church of 8 Wheels founder David Miles captured this image of blood and a "MAGA" hat at the crime scene. | Photo: David Miles/Facebook
By Allie Pape - Published on April 04, 2019.

Police have arrested a man suspected of attacking and seriously injuring another man with a sword in the Lower Haight on Friday, after the victim knocked the "Make America Great Again" hat that the suspect was wearing off his head. 

The suspect, Leor Bergland, a 30-year-old San Francisco resident, was arrested in the Tenderloin last night. An SFPD spokesperson says he was spotted by plainclothes officers at Eddy and Larkin streets, where he was dining at a restaurant. 

Bergland was taken into custody "without incident," according to police, and booked into the San Francisco County Jail on charges of attempted murder, mayhem, aggravated assault, carrying a concealed dirk or dagger and brandishing a weapon. Police have not provided a booking photo, citing "pending identification matters."

The sword attack took place at approximately 9:50 p.m. on March 29, outside the Church of 8 Wheels, the deconsecrated church-turned-roller-skating rink on Fillmore between Fell and Oak streets.

The attack occurred outside the Church of 8 Wheels, a former church turned roller rink. | Image: Google

According to police, the incident started when Bergland, who was wearing a "Make America Great Again," or "MAGA," baseball cap, began walking towards the unnamed victim, a 27-year-old male Berkeley resident.

The victim swatted the cap, typically worn by supporters of President Trump, off Bergland's head. In response, Bergland allegedly drew a sword, partially severing the victim's left hand before fleeing the scene. 

Police say the victim and a witness tried to chase down Bergland after the attack, but when he turned and began advancing towards them, sword still in hand, they ended their pursuit. 

The victim, whom police did not name, was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries. After receiving treatment for his partially severed hand, he was released from the hospital this week. 

Earlier this week, a witness told the Chronicle that he had seen Bergland outside the roller rink about half an hour prior to the attack, and that Bergland allegedly yelled homophobic slurs at him. The witness also saw that Bergland was carrying the sword, but assumed it was a fake. 

Hoodline has inquired with police for further details on whether homophobic statements were involved in the sword attack, and will update this post if we hear back. 

The fallout from the attack has created difficulties for David Miles, founder of the Church of 8 Wheels and a veteran of the local roller-skating scene. After posting a Facebook photograph from the scene featuring the MAGA hat and the victim's blood on the sidewalk (above), Miles has received phone calls and social media messages accusing him of promoting a conspiracy against Trump supporters.

Miles, a Vietnam veteran, told the Examiner on Tuesday that he has disconnected his phone line, and now approaches the roller rink cautiously, wary of a potential attacker. 

“I responded to a person that needed help,” he told the Examiner. “I went out to help him. You don’t look for hats, you stop the bleeding.”

In a Facebook post this afternoon, Miles expressed his excitement that the suspect had been arrested. 

"The swordsman got caught last night!" he wrote. "Now his hat says 'MY ASS GOT ARRESTED!'"