A disturbance at one of San Francisco’s most famous churches Sunday evening led police on a chaotic chase that allegedly involved a man setting off a pipe bomb and tossing a Molotov cocktail before being taken into custody in the East Bay, a city official told The Standard.
Officers responded to a report of an assault at 5:52 p.m. at Sts. Peter and Paul Church in the North Beach neighborhood, according to the San Francisco Police Department and Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who represents the neighborhood and was briefed on the situation.
Police arrived on the scene, and the suspect fled in a vehicle, leading to a pursuit, according to the department.
"Officers initiated pursuit, and the suspect threw an unknown object out of the car window at pursuing officers," officials said.
Peskin said police told him the suspect set off a pipe bomb on the 1500 block of Jones Street, a residential part of Nob Hill, and police continued to pursue the man south, where he allegedly ignited a Molotov cocktail on Eighth Street between Market and Mission.
Police advised members of the public to avoid the areas Sunday night.
The suspect fled onto the freeway, and California Highway Patrol took over the chase, police said. The pursuit ended in Martinez, where the man was taken into custody.
“Nobody got seriously hurt,” Peskin said, adding that he was initially told that a priest was assaulted but that does not appear to be the case.
People reported hearing loud explosions on social media Sunday evening and officers had taped off the block near Jones and Pacific Streets by the time a reporter for The Standard had arrived on scene around 7:15 p.m. An officer on the scene declined to comment. Police also taped off the area around Mission and Eighth streets.
Bobby Diaz, a guest at the Bei Hotel on Eighth Street south of Market, heard a blast as he was on the phone.
"I was looking out the window,” he said. “I heard what sounded like a boom. It kind of sounded like someone crashed into the hotel.”
Diaz said police responded almost immediately, with approximately 10 squad cars responding. "It was an impactful boom,” he said. "It was very loud.”
Peskin said the police department’s Night Investigations Unit would be updating him throughout the evening.
Police asked anyone with information to contact the department by calling 415-575-4444 or texting a tip to TIP411 and beginning the message with "SFPD."
Additionally, members of the public who come across any suspicious devices are advised to immediately call 911 and to avoid approaching or moving the object.
Julie Makinen and Matthew Kupfer contributed to this report.
Josh Koehn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org