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FBI counterterrorism agent attacked in downtown San Francisco, threatened with death

A police officer walks around the exterior a federal building with a dog.
A Department of Homeland Security officer walks the perimeter of the Phillip Burton Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse on Nov. 13, 2023. | Source: AP Photo/Noah Berger

An FBI agent was attacked outside of San Francisco’s federal courthouse earlier this month when a woman hit the agent twice before threatening that she would expose his identity to the neighborhood’s drug dealers so they would kill him, according to federal court records obtained Wednesday. 

The incident is the latest attack on a federal employee in San Francisco, where many have said they feel unsafe and under siege at more than one location where street drug dealing is rampant. 

Erika Melendez, who was convicted and ordered to stay away from the Phillip F. Burton Federal Building for attacking another FBI employee in 2023, was charged March 4 with assaulting a federal officer on March 1.  

The alleged assault happened 20 yards from the courthouse at 450 Golden Gate Ave. around 11:20 a.m. The agent had parked his unmarked car at Turk and Larkin streets and was returning to the office after a field interview. Melendez allegedly hit him twice on the back and shoulder while shouting, “You’re a fucking FBI agent. You guys took all my shit!” 

Video image of a woman walking down the street.
Court documents show an image of Erika Melendez before she allegedly attacked an FBI agent in the Tenderloin on March 1. | Source: Courtesy Federal Court Documents

The agent moved away and ordered her not to hit him but she continued to yell, threatening to tell drug dealers his identity so that they would kill him, according to court documents. 

Melendez “shouted ‘matalo!’ to several passersby—a Spanish command meaning ‘kill him!’” documents say.

The agent, who got back in his car and drove away, works on counterterrorism with a focus on large events such as the Super Bowl. On the day of the assault, he was not wearing any insignia or clothing indicating he was an FBI agent but was armed with a pistol.

Melendez and the victim did not know each other, records say. 

After the incident, Melendez was identified as the same assailant in a previous attack on an FBI employee and the third violent attack she has allegedly been involved in since August last year. 

The FBI did not respond to a request for comment nor did the federal public defender in the case, Tamara A. Crepet.

In a previous attack, on Aug. 31, 2023, Melendez "repeatedly struck, chased, and threatened” an FBI employee who investigated violent gangs and worked with San Francisco Police Department's SWAT team, court records say.

A video image of a woman walking on the street.
Court documents show an image of Erika Melendez before she allegedly attacked an FBI agent in August 2023 outside of the Phillip Burton Federal Building. | Source: Courtesy Federal Court Documents

Before striking him several times with a bag at Golden Gate Avenue and Larkin Street, Melendez yelled, “Fuck you, FBI! Why didn’t you call me back?” The agent then tried to flee, but she chased him across the street, where she again yelled at him in front of the Philz Coffee, court records state. 

Melendez was convicted of battery in state court for the August assault, sentenced to 18 days in jail and one year’s probation—and ordered to stay away from the courthouse. 

But she continued to act violently, said prosecutors in documents arguing for her detention. 

On Oct. 26, she tried to stab a leasing agent in her apartment building, which is minutes away from the Phillip Burton Federal Building, court records state. 

The leasing agent fled the building with Melendez chasing him. 

“The leasing agent had to retreat inside his car to escape Melendez—a car she slashed repeatedly while saying, ‘I will fucking kill you,’” court records show.

Federal prosecutors have requested she remain in custody as she is a threat to the public. If convicted, for the latest FBI agent attack she faces up to eight years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Melendez remains in the Alameda County jail. 

The Melendez case follows another attack against a federal employee downtown on June 8 in which Akal Calvert-Damu Allen punched a female employee in the face and broke her nose, according to court records.

Allen has yet to go to trial, records show. In September, high-level meetings were held on safety concerns at the Speaker Nancy Pelosi Federal Building following an Aug. 4 memo written by a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services official who said security was so bad that workers were urged to consider working from home.

Jonah Owen Lamb can be reached at