Helicopters circled overhead and restaurant patrons were evacuated mid-meal as the San Francisco Police Department and its bomb squad investigated a suspicious package purportedly blocking the entrance to a building on the 1000 block of Valencia Street between 21st and Hill streets.
Restaurant workers say they’ve been cooling their heels for about an hour now. Helicopters have been buzzing overhead for at least half an hour. Residents who live on Valencia between 20th and 22nd streets are being prevented from entering their homes.
Mission Local’s Abraham Rodriguez and Ricky Rodas are on the scene. One restaurant worker told Rodas that he and his colleagues were hiding in the kitchen before being ordered out by the San Francisco Police Department. A woman who had been in a pilates studio told Rodriguez that police gave her and everyone else there two minutes to gather their things and get out.
Police have ordered Rodriguez and fellow media members to move south from 22nd and Valencia toward Bartlett.
The remote-controlled robot was deployed from the bomb squad van on Valencia and 22nd at around 6:15 p.m. A second “rover” was deployed in the next 20 minutes.
Rodriguez reports that a man in an FBI shirt walked into the bomb squad van. Eyewitnesses have told Rodas that armed undercover police are on-scene.
David Hirata, who works at the Marsh Theater on Valencia and Hill Streets, says police told him and his coworkers to either stay inside or go home at about 5 p.m. People living between Lexington and Valencia have not been able to return to their homes since that time.
At 7:19 p.m., SFPD Spokesman Officer Joseph Tomlinson gave a response to local news media. He says a suspicious package was reported at 4:05 p.m. “San Francisco bomb squad arrived to the location and found a device. There was no merit to that device; it was not an explosive device,” Tomlinson said.
When questioned whether the recent shootings in El Paso, Tex. and Dayton, Ohio contributed to the level of response, Tomlinson said that “we take each call very seriously.”
All closed off streets were reopened at around 7:35 p.m.
An investigation is still ongoing.