SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – A car rammed into the Chinese consulate in San Francisco on Monday, causing a chaotic scene that ended with police shooting the driver, who later died at the hospital, according to officials.
Police in San Francisco said they had no idea why the unidentified driver smashed through the front of the consulate, which is located on a major thoroughfare across from the city’s Japantown neighborhood. According to the Chinese Consulate General, it was a “violent attack.”
On a report of a vehicle crashing into the consulate shortly after 3 p.m., police descended on the building and advised people to avoid the area. A blue Honda sedan was seen inside the lobby of the consulate’s visa office in video from the scene.
During a brief news conference, San Francisco police Sgt. Kathryn Winters said officers entered the building, made contact with the suspect, and opened fire. The suspect died in a hospital despite “life-saving efforts.”
Police did not say how the shooting occurred, how many officers fired, or whether the driver was armed. There were no reports of anyone being injured inside the building.
Police are collaborating and coordinating with US State Department and Chinese Consulate investigators.
“I wish I could give you more but this is a very complex investigation,” Winters was quoted as saying.
The Chinese Consulate General demanded more information about what happened and that it be “treated seriously in accordance with the law.”
“Our embassy strongly condemns this violent attack,” said the statement.
At a daily briefing on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin reiterated that statement without providing any details about the damage to the consulate or injuries to staff and visitors.
“We strongly urge the United States to launch an immediate investigation and take effective measures to ensure the safety of Chinese diplomatic missions and personnel there in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations,” Wang said, referring to the 1961 treaty that governs international relations.
The San Francisco consulate has previously been targeted. Among the most serious was a fire set by a Chinese man at the main entrance on New Year’s Day, 2014. It charred a section of the building’s exterior.
The man, who lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, told authorities that he was motivated by voices he heard. He received a sentence of nearly three years in prison.
San Francisco is preparing to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, which will bring together world leaders from Pacific Rim countries next month. President Joe Biden intends to attend, but it is unclear whether Chinese President Xi Jinping will.