Like many of you, I assumed that the bomb threat phoned into a San Francisco high school during finals week was the work of a slacking student — after all, who here hasn't flirted with the idea of calling in a false disaster to get out of an unpleasant obligation? However, it looks like we cynics were likely wrong, as police say that the caller was a mentally ill bigot, one that remains on the loose.
As previously reported, it was 10:45 a.m. on Friday, May 20, when a bomb threat was called in to San Francisco's George Washington High School, located at 600 32nd Avenue between Geary Boulevard and Balboa Street.
The school was evacuated — which, given that it was a 1) nice summer 2) Friday 3) during finals, inspired some knowing smirks in the comments.
And I was right there with those skeptics! Until I read the words of the Captain of the San Francisco Police Department's Richmond Station in today's Examiner.
According to the Ex, "The caller sent police on an hourslong manhunt May 20 throughout one of the more residential neighborhoods in San Francisco, telling hostage negotiators he was parked in a car at various places in the Richmond District and planned to blow up the campus." Hardly necessary, one would think, if you just want to get out of a test!
Captain Paul Yep says that hostage negotiators were connected to the caller via Washington High's phone line, and kept him talking as police searched the area.
Yep, who described the caller as "erratic," says the man made “a lot of hate references” regarding “certain groups.”
The caller told negotiators that he'd be bringing a bomb onto Wash's campus, so police "created a barrier around Washington High and questioned anyone who tried to enter" as bomb sniffing dogs sniffed the area and police made a corridor to safely hustle students from the building.
It was as students were leaving that the man ended the call, saying he'd call back, Yep says. According to the Ex, "That return call was complicated by parents calling the main office for more information on their kids’ safety, despite a message from the school district asking them not to call the school."
According to Yep, the bomb-threatener gave cops a name...but police aren't sure if it was his, and the caller has yet to be identified. One thing officials do seem sure about: The threatening man wasn't a kid worried about flunking an exam, and Yep says that police are "not going to dismiss this as a prank call."