A man who was arrested for allegedly tossing bombs from a vehicle during a police pursuit in San Francisco over the weekend was previously convicted of federal charges in a 2011 Bay Area car bombing.
Daniel Richard Garcia, 42, of Concord, was arrested in Contra Costa County Sunday night after leading authorities on a chase from San Francisco. Police have now publicly named Garcia as the suspect in the case—after The Standard confirmed his identity from jail and other public records.
The pursuit began after Garcia allegedly punched a parishioner in the head inside Sts. Peter and Paul Church in North Beach, according to David Lazar, assistant chief of San Francisco police. Lazar said the suspect demanded money from the victim until other parishioners came to his rescue. He was allegedly seen holding an unopened folding knife as he left the church.
Garcia has been booked on suspicion of attempted murder, aggravated assault, evading police and 10 explosives-related charges, jail records show.
In 2011, Garcia was charged in federal court over a car bombing that damaged a vehicle and apartment complex in Fairfield, court records show.
Federal prosecutors called the attack “highly premeditated” and said it “placed a large number of innocent people, including two young sleeping children, in significant danger from galvanized steel shrapnel and fire.”
They said Garcia was motivated by a conflict with two former roommates.
The charges stemmed from a pipe bomb that exploded in front of an apartment complex in Fairfield, where his former roommates lived. The device went off under their Chevy Tahoe, according to the complaint against Garcia.
Garcia’s two former roommates, a married couple, heard a bang and pieces of metal striking concrete. When they went outside, a fire was burning under their SUV, which one person put out with an extinguisher.
Investigators found the remains of the bomb at the scene.
Federal prosecutors said Garcia had previously threatened to “blow up” their vehicle, saying, “You know I have the shit here or I can get it on the internet.”
Soon after the bomb attack, a SWAT team went to Garcia’s home, where a standoff involving the use of tear gas occurred before his arrest. When his home was searched, authorities said they found another explosive device.
Garcia went to trial and was found guilty on four counts in 2012, including the malicious use of explosive material against both an apartment building and a vehicle. He was sentenced to prison for a total term of 35 years.
However, Garcia was released in February 2019 after successfully challenging his conviction on one of the charges, which carried a 360-month sentence.
Garcia’s criminal history goes back to 1996, when, as a juvenile, he was cited for arson and the use of a destructive device, according to court filings.
Garcia was arrested again this weekend when police responded to a report of an assault Sunday at 5:52 p.m. at the North Beach church.
The report led to a chaotic chase that involved the suspect setting off a pipe bomb and tossing a Molotov cocktail during the pursuit.
A pursuing officer reported one of the explosions to dispatch at 6:04 p.m., according to scanner audio recordings.
“He threw another bomb,” the officer said. “It blew up on Mission.”
The pursuit ended with Garcia’s arrest by the California Highway Patrol in the East Bay. No injuries have been reported in relation to the incident as of Monday morning.
By Monday morning, heavily armed police officers had surrounded a home associated with Garcia on North Sixth Street in Concord. The Standard witnessed a bomb disposal robot enter the property.
Neighbor Stephen Salbato confirmed that a man named Daniel lived at the house and confirmed his identity when shown a picture of Garcia. “He's someone who never smiled,” Salbato said.
“I’m so ecstatic that he’s not going to be living here,” said neighbor Lisa Salbato.
Other neighbors, who were afraid to be named in coverage for fear of retribution, confirmed Garcia lives at the home.
“You never know who is living in your neighborhood,” said a neighbor who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation. “We’ve had little robberies, but nothing like this.”
A woman installing internet in the neighborhood, who asked not to be named due to the company’s media policy, said she was informed two weeks ago that the person living in the house didn’t have electricity or internet access.
Neighbors said he didn't have electricity and ran a generator excessively.
The Salbatos said they installed cameras because of him, as they had heard Garcia had a history with explosives and were worried he might plant one on their property.
Police eventually left Garcia's home with brown paper bags filled with items at around 1:45 p.m. One officer carried a box that appeared to have glass bottles inside.
Garcia allegedly asked a police officer how many points he had scored on Grand Theft Auto when he was arrested, according to Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who was briefed by police as he represents North Beach.
“In 23 years of doing this stuff, this is probably the most bizarre,” said Peskin.
Peskin said a police officer told him after the man’s arrest that "he wanted to know how many points he got in his Grand Theft Auto game."
Grand Theft Auto, or GTA, is a long-running video game series in which players can engage in crime, police chases, gunfights and complete missions. The games are often ranked among the greatest and bestselling titles.
Joe Burn contributed to this reporting.
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