A car rammed into the Chinese consulate in San Francisco on Monday, coming to a stop in the lobby and creating a chaotic scene that ended with police shooting the driver, who later died at the hospital, officials said.
San Francisco police said they didn’t know why the unidentified driver smashed through the front of the consulate, located on a major street across from the city’s Japantown neighborhood. In a statement, the Chinese Consulate general described it as a “violent attack.”
Police descended on the consulate shortly after 3 p.m. on a report of a vehicle crashing into the building and urged people to avoid the area. Video from the scene showed a blue Honda sedan inside the lobby of the consulate’s visa office.
Officers entered the building, made contact with the suspect, and opened fire, San Francisco police Sgt. Kathryn Winters said during a brief news conference. Despite “life-saving efforts” the suspect died at a hospital.
Police did not describe how the shooting unfolded, how many officers fired, or if the driver had a weapon. There were no reports of any injured people inside the building.
Police are working and coordinating with investigators from the U.S. State Department and the Chinese Consulate.
“I wish I could give you more, but this is a very complex investigation,” Winters said.
The statement from the Chinese Consulate general demanded more details about what happened and asked that it be “dealt with seriously in accordance with the law.”
“Our embassy severely condemns this violent attack,” the statement said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin repeated that statement at a daily briefing Tuesday. He called the incident “an attempt to hurt people and consulate staff” without giving any details about damage to the consulate or injuries to staff and visitors.
“We strongly urge the U.S. to launch a swift investigation and take effective measures to ensure the safety of Chinese diplomatic missions and personnel there in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations,” Wang said, referring to the 1961 agreement governing relations between countries.
The San Francisco consulate has been targeted a number of times before. Among the most serious was a fire set by a Chinese man on New Year’s Day 2014 at the main entrance. It charred a section of the outside of the building.
The man, who was living in the San Francisco Bay Area, told authorities he was driven by voices he was hearing. He was sentenced to nearly three years in prison.
San Francisco is preparing to host next month’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, a gathering of world leaders from Pacific Rim nations. U.S. President Joe Biden plans to attend but it’s not clear if Chinese President Xi Jinping will come.