Information about the suspect shot and killed by police and his motivations are not being released quickly, the SFPD says, because Monday's crash is being treated as an international incident.
A car with a sole occupant, a male driver, crashed into the lobby of the visa documentation center at the Chinese consulate Monday afternoon around 3 p.m. The building is at Laguna Street and Geary Boulevard, and video from the incident shows a blue Honda that appears to have driven through the open doors of the lobby and come to rest, having caused minor damage.
A witness tells the New York Times that the driver got out of the car and was screaming "Where is the fucking C.C.P.?", using an abbreviation for the Chinese Communist Party. The cellphone video also seems to capture the driver saying, "I'm an American."
NEW VIDEO: Car crashes into the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco.— BNO News (@BNONews) October 10, 2023
A witness says the driver, who was shot by police, yelled "Where's the CCP?" pic.twitter.com/40g2eUsZNH
Security personnel at the consulate restrained the man, and the video ends showing people running out of the building.
We still don't know what occurred after San Francisco police arrived on the scene. SFPD spokesperson Sgt. Kathryn Winters tells the Chronicle that police shot the suspect after they "made contact," and it remains unclear whether the man was armed. Winters said the department was limited in what they could say because this was an international incident.
Update: The police now say that the suspect, who still has not been named, was swinging a knife in the moments before he was shot, and he was also found in possession of a crossbow.
Adding tension to the incident is the fact that Chinese President Xi Jinping is scheduled to come to San Francisco in a matter of weeks for APEC, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders summit. And just last week, President Joe Biden suggested he may try to meet with Xi while in San Francisco.
The Chronicle spoke to several people in the neighborhood who said that the consulate building was the site of weekly protests by followers of the Falun Gong, a new religious movement that the Chinese Communist Party has been notably hostile to in China. A large number of Falun Gong followers emigrated to the U.S. since the 1990s, many to San Francisco — and you may be familiar with their work, Shen Yun.
The protests, neighbors say, are always peaceful.
While this incident may not get major airplay in the U.S., it was the most popular trending topic on Weibo, the Chinese social media platform, as of this morning, per the Times.
The consulate put out a statement saying, "On the afternoon of October 9, 2023, local time, an unidentified person drove a vehicle and violently crashed into the document hall of our consulate, posing a serious threat to the safety of staff and people on site, and damaging the facilities of our consulate. Our embassy severely condemns this violent attack.”
Update: The White has also condemned the crash, saying it was done with "malign intent."
"We condemn this incident and all violence perpetrated against foreign diplomatic staff working in the United States," said White House National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson.
Previously: Car Crashes Into Chinese Consulate, Driver Shot