A man accused of punching a church parishioner and igniting explosives in San Francisco’s streets on Sunday was notorious among neighbors for his odd and aggressive behavior they said included abusing his girlfriend.
Neighbors said they weren’t surprised when police arrived at Daniel Garcia’s Concord home to search for explosives on Monday because he had routinely behaved in disturbing ways.
Garcia, 42, is suspected of assaulting a parishioner at the famous Sts. Peter and Paul Church in North Beach before leading police on a high-speed chase while he hurled explosives from the car.
Garcia reportedly asked police after he was arrested how many points he had scored in a video game called Grand Theft Auto, according to Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who was briefed by police.
By 11:30 a.m. on Monday, a cadre of heavily armed San Francisco police officers surrounded Garcia’s home with a bomb disposal robot as neighbors gathered to watch.
Garcia stood out in the otherwise peaceful residential neighborhood because he lived without electricity and routinely stayed up late running a generator to operate power tools and play “bad rap music,” neighbors said.
Stephen and Lisa Salbato, who live directly across the street from the suspect’s home, said they called the police on Garcia after his girlfriend, whom The Standard is not naming, fled to their house following a series of alleged assaults on May 18.
Garcia's girlfriend told police he had repeatedly punched her in the face and forcibly shaved her head before threatening to kill her in May, court documents show.
Police said they found the woman “shaking, crying” and with “visible bald patches on her head and injuries to her face.” An officer said while investigating the incident he discovered a loaded 12-gauge shotgun in Garcia’s house. Court records show that authorities cited his girlfriend's allegations in order to justify seizing the weapon.
The woman told police there were three major incidents in which Garcia made her fear for her life. She also said he abused his now-dead mother.
A judge granted her an emergency protective order. Garcia was out on bail and expected to appear in court for that case on Tuesday.
The Salbatos said Garcia cut down a tree in their front yard and destroyed their power meter after they called the police on him.
“I’m so ecstatic that he’s not going to be living here now,” Lisa Salbato said.
In 2011, Garcia was convicted in federal court for a car bombing that damaged a vehicle and apartment complex in Fairfield, a town in Solano County, court records show.
Federal prosecutors said the attack was premeditated and “placed a large number of innocent people, including two young sleeping children, in significant danger from galvanized steel shrapnel and fire.”
However, he was freed in February 2019 after successfully challenging a conviction on one of the charges, which carried a 360-month sentence.
As of Monday evening, Garcia was held in San Francisco jail on suspicion of attempted murder, aggravated assault, evading police and 10 explosives-related charges. The Standard witnessed San Francisco police leaving Garcia’s home around 1:45 p.m. Monday carrying brown paper bags and a box that appeared to contain glass bottles.
The Salbatos and other neighbors who spoke to The Standard said they hoped he wouldn’t return to the neighborhood.
Kim Madrigal, who lives directly next door to Garcia’s property, said she often heard Garcia screaming profanities and using power tools late into the night.
Madrigal said she had considered calling the police but instead opted to keep her distance for the sake of caution. She described tiptoeing around her backyard to avoid drawing Garcia’s attention as he yelled at his pit bull.
“I hope he doesn’t get out,” Madrigal said. “I just want to trick-or-treat and pass out candy.”
Jonah Owen Lamb contributed reporting.