Thrasher Magazine Co-Founder Commits Suicide In Front Of SF Police Station

By Jay Casteel   /   Published 06/22/11

Eric Swenson, Craig Stecyk, & Fausto Vitello, at the Independent foundry in San Francisco, CA, 1983. Photo by MoFo

A man put a gun to his head and committed suicide in front of the Mission Police Station in San Francisco on Monday morning (June 20). Now, he's been identified as Eric Swenson, the co-founder of iconic skateboarding magazine Thrasher.

According to the San Francisco Examiner, the incident took place at around 8:30 a.m. at local station, located at 17th and Valencia streets. He used a high-caliber handgun and shot himself right in front of the station's front doors.

A woman who witnessed the shocking suicide called cops. Swenson did not go inside the police station before committing suicide, police Lt. Troy Dangerfield said.

Police covered up the body quickly, and close off the sidewalk with yellow tape, following the shooting.

He was 64 years old.

While the circumstances surround Swenson's death was unknown, loved ones told the paper that they believe that his longtime struggle with decades of physical pain led to the suicide.

Described by family and friends as a "very private person." Why he did it in front of the station, people believe to spare his family from from finding him, said Gwynn Vitello, Thrasher's publisher and wife of Swenson's business partner, the late Fausto Vitello.

"Eric was not a person who wanted to burden anybody," Vitello said. "In my mind, this was the most unselfish way he could do what he had to do."

While the skateboarding community celebrated its annual Go Skateboarding Day, it also mourned one of the death of Swenson, 63, passed away on June 20.

This is a message posted by the Thrasher's official website:

Ideas come a dime a dozen. People talk, but seldom act. Eric Swenson got things done. Never one to clamor for the spotlight, he preferred the hard work, orchestrating the show from behind the scenes. It is with deep regret that we announce the passing of a dear friend and one of our founders. His mark on skateboarding is extraordinary. Without him there would be no Thrasher Magazine, Independent trucks, or Spitfire wheels, to name a few. He leaves behind his wife Linda and sister Rebekah, along with a tremendous number of admirers.

Our thoughts are with Swenson's family, friends, and the Thrasher team.

Legendary Dog Town skater and budding photographer, Pep Williams, posted the following message on his Facebook page: "Lost another brother. Thanks for everything over the past 25 years. You were always cool. RIP Mr Swenson."

Thrasher was launched in 1981, and helped the establish skateboarding as a subculture at a time when it still wasn't accepted by the mainstream.

Eben Sterling, advertising director for Thrasher and Slap, spoke to the Examiner about the mag's impact and Swenson's role.

"Before Thrasher skateboarding was just another trend like yo-yos, rollerblades and Hula Hoops. But now it had its own music, dialect and it's own fashion style," Sterling said, before describing Swenson as a behind the scenes workhorse. "He wasn't into the glory or being in the spotlight. He was extremely successful, but was a humble guy that didn't flaunt his wealth. He basically got up in the morning and went to work, and that was his passion."

Rest in peace, Eric Swenson.

  • DKC

    It is a shame that this day in age we do not have a human way for folks in chronic pain to end their lives. I would like to think that he was giving one last middle finger to the PIGS on his way out. SKATEBOARDING IS NOT A CRIME. I am a photographer today because of the skate/bmx rags of my youth. Especially Thrasher, which had the best photos and the naughty content that a 13 year old would desire.

  • 415

    that picture is of fausto vitello, who passed five years ago...  rest in peace to both of you.  long live the legends.

  • GreatLakesChampagneYachtNigga

    nigga shoulda drank some king tut 
    and puffed on some cleopatra..
    jetlife to the next life fool!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Jorge Escobar510

    Skate & Destroy in peace, thanks for your part in skateboarding history. We need a hall of fame soon and put Thrasher magazines founders in it.