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What we know about San Francisco’s Chinese consulate crash: Suspect armed with crossbow

A screengrab shows the moment after a vehicle crashed into the Chinese consulate in San Francisco on Monday. | Source: Courtesy Sergii Molchanov

San Francisco police on Monday shot and killed a man who a police source said was armed with a crossbow after he rammed a car into the Chinese consulate in a bizarre incident that left many questions unanswered.

While the motive for the incident remains unclear, the shooting comes as San Francisco prepares to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, a gathering of world leaders from Pacific Rim nations that will draw international attention to the city.

MORE: San Francisco Police Shoot And Kill Man At Chinese Consulate

The shooting unfolded at around 3:09 p.m. Monday when the blue sedan crashed into the lobby on Geary Boulevard near Laguna Street, according to police.

Bystander video obtained by The Standard showed people running from the building as security guards confronted the driver. Witnesses said the man was bleeding, and one witness said he was holding knives.

A screengrab from a video of people feeling the Chinese consulate after a vehicle crashed into the lobby in San Francisco on Monday, Oct. 10, 2023. | Source: Courtesy Sergii Molchanov

Police said the shooting happened after an officer “contacted” the suspect, but declined to provide further details about how the shooting occurred.

Two witnesses described hearing anywhere between two to five gunshots.

The suspect was taken to a hospital with serious injuries and later died. Officials have not yet released his identity to the public.

Here’s what we know so far.

Who Is the Driver?

The car seen by bystanders and in video from the crash was ticketed in December in San Francisco. A photo was taken at the time showing a residential parking permit on its bumper.

The permit is for Mission District residents, according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. 

The car’s owner attempted to protest the ticket but was denied. The owner still owes $239, according to the SFMTA. 

The Suspect Was Armed

The Standard reported within hours of the crash that police believed the suspect was armed. Authorities were also concerned that there may be an explosive in the vehicle. The SFPD bomb squad was dispatched to the scene and police dogs could be seen in the area.

An SFPD source with knowledge of the investigation has since said that the driver was armed with a crossbow and knife.

Possible Motive

Why the man drove his car into the consulate is unclear.

A White House official said authorities believe the driver was "acting with malign intent."

"We condemn this incident and all violence perpetrated against foreign diplomatic staff working in the United States," White House National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said.

A witness who was in the building at the time told The Standard that the driver shouted, "Where's the CCP?" as he got out of the blue Honda.

The driver appeared to be referencing the Chinese Communist Party, which rules the People’s Republic of China and has been a frequent subject of criticism in the United States.

The Chinese consulate has been subject to other attacks in the past.

In November, someone vandalized the building with graffiti as demonstrators held a vigil outside the consulate to honor 10 people who died in a fire in Urumqi, a city in China’s Xinjiang Province.

Many protesters in China blamed the country’s strict Covid protocols for preventing the victims from escaping, though officials from the Chinese government have denied culpability.

In 2014, an arsonist set fire to the building’s main entrance, significantly damaging its doors and facade.

That incident was investigated by the FBI and the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security along with SFPD.

Other consulates have also faced attacks and vandalism. In July, someone set fire to the entrance of the Consulate General of India. In March, someone smashed the Indian consulate’s windows during a demonstration outside the building.

An Unusual Setting

The shooting was unique in that it occurred at the Chinese consulate, raising questions about the authority San Francisco agencies have to investigate the incident.

Most shootings by San Francisco police officers are investigated by various independent agencies including the District Attorney’s Office and the Department of Police Accountability.

But whether these agencies have jurisdiction to investigate a shooting can be complicated by the location of the shooting, such as when SFPD officers shot and killed a man at San Francisco International Airport, which is located in San Mateo County.

In this case, Paul Henderson, executive director of the Department of Police Accountability, said his investigators were able to access the scene and do their job. The agency investigates SFPD shootings to determine whether officers acted within police policy.

“If the officers are acting in an official capacity, then we do have jurisdiction,” Henderson said.

Next Steps

The crash spurred the Chinese government to issue a statement saying an "extremely bad" incursion had seriously damaged its consulate and endangered workers.

"The mission severely condemns this violent attack and reserves the right to pursue responsibilities related to the incident," the consulate said. "Our mission has made solemn representations to the United States, demanding that the truth be quickly ascertained and dealt with seriously in accordance with the law."

San Francisco police said they were working with the U.S. State Department to investigate the shooting.

The SFPD typically hosts a public meeting to release more details and video footage within 10 days after a shooting by an officer.

Meanwhile, the consulate’s visa office was temporarily closed Tuesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Jonah Owen Lamb can be reached at