Valencia Street became the scene of a bomb scare for three hours on Monday morning after police got a call about a suspicious package that turned out to be non-lethal.
From 11 a.m. to just after 2 p.m. police closed off the popular corridor between 18th and 19th streets, evacuated some 30 businesses and warned residents and pedestrians to stay away from the street filled with independent shops and cafes.
It’s still not clear where the package was found, but officer Albie Esparza added that the package was found next to Dandelion Chocolate.
Al Abualrous, who has worked at Ali Baba’s Cave on 19th Street for eight months, said that soon after opening at 11:15 a.m. he noticed something happening on Valencia. Police assured him that he was safe and the restaurant continued to serve food.
I wasn’t scared, he said, because stuff like this happens all the time in Palestine, where he is from. There, he said, he did fear for his life.
Abualrous’s 80-year-old neighbor Richard Reidel, who lives on top of the Laundromat at 787 Valencia St., went to breakfast earlier in the morning and could not get back in.
Reidel said he is from Germany and the scene on Valencia made him think of World War II. He has lived in the United States since 1960.
Up until the end of the drama, the intersection at 18th and Valencia remained packed with about 30 onlookers and every news outlet in the city including Univision and KPIX.
A firetruck, ambulance and K9 police dog unit were on the scene.
“There are also areas where people are advised to shelter in place,” police said in a statement sent earlier to reporters.
This was the second bomb scare in three days. On Saturday, police reported a call about a suspicious package at San Francisco General Hospital. The sheriff’s on duty there located a metal box in the outpatient area of the hospital. The package was not hazardous. It is unclear if there is any connection between the two calls.