24th Street Mission southwest plaza. Photo taken Dec. 19, 2022 by Annika Hom.

An elderly plaza regular was discovered dead Thursday morning outside the 24th Street BART station. 

A fire department spokesperson confirmed that medics reported to the scene at 7:45 a.m. on Thursday, when the temperature was still in the low 40s, and said the Medical Examiner had taken over the case, indicating that the person was deceased. 

Guillermo holding a dog.
Guillermo with a canine friend.

The man, known just as Guillermo to his friends at the southwest plaza at 24th and Mission streets, remembered him as a good person and good friend who had recently been living on the streets. His friends said he was 78 years old. 

“We all know him,” said Victoria Marroquin, a fellow Salvadoran who said she knew Guillermo for 40 years, in Spanish. “We supported him, we gave him food, a place to bathe, we would find clothes for him to change.”

Marroquin, 62, was among the small group of people drinking Modelo beers in honor of Guillermo on Friday afternoon.  A small altar with candles and flowers and a couple of beer bottles was set up at the place where his body was found. 

Occasionally, a new friend would arrive and gaze at the altar before joining the group, or someone would walk over to re-light a candle that had blown out. 

“I don’t know if it was the cold that killed him, because on Wednesday, he was good,” said another friend, Roberto Zelaya, in Spanish. He said a friend had seen Guillermo shirtless at the plaza around 2 a.m., a few hours before he was found dead. 

Early Thursday morning, low temperatures neared 40 degrees.

Zelaya said that he met Guillermo more than eight years ago hanging out at the plaza. Guillermo, though he was approaching 80, had worked in construction until just a few months ago, Zelaya said, and had been kicked out of his home within the past year as well. He had his spots near the plazas, where he would sleep with his blankets. 

“Here, for us, there is no difference whether you’re from Peru, Mexico, whatever; here, we meet each other,” said Zelaya, who hails from Honduras. “When we become friends, that’s it, we all love each other.” 

Guillermo may have been a drinker, but “he never hurt anybody,” Zelaya said. “He was beautiful, inside and out.” 

A group of candles, flowers, and a bottle of water on a brick wall in a memorial for Guillermo.

Zelaya and Guillermo’s other friends were frustrated that Guillermo’s body, though discovered before 8 a.m., was not taken away until close to noon. Mission Local could not independently confirm this.

Marroquin said she first met Guillermo across the street at Carlos Club, which sat at 3278 24th St., where Silverstone Cafe is today. “He was our friend,” Marroquin said, adding that he may have been foul-mouthed or had his issues. “But we loved him.”

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REPORTER. Eleni reports on policing in San Francisco. She first moved to the city on a whim more than 10 years ago, and the Mission has become her home. Follow her on Twitter @miss_elenius.

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  1. In our lives …we go thru changes that are the same in every culture…..we look are you as a person and we welcome you when you need help….REST IN PEACE UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN

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