By Nathan Frandino
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) -Police officers fatally shot the driver of a vehicle that plowed through the Chinese consulate in San Francisco and into the lobby of the building’s visa office on Monday, city police said.
Official details of the incident were sketchy, and police said the identity of the motorist and what precipitated the crash were not yet known. There was no mention of anyone else being injured in the incident.
“I don’t know how many people were inside the visa office at the time of the collision,” San Francisco Police Department spokesperson Sergeant Kathryn Winters told reporters at a news briefing hours later.
“When officers arrived here on scene, they found the vehicle had come to rest inside the lobby of the Chinese Consulate. Officers entered, made contact with the suspect and an officer-involved shooting occurred,” Winters said.
“The suspect was later pronounced deceased at the hospital. This is an open and active investigation.”
Police were coordinating with investigators from the U.S. State Department, she said, adding: “There’s very little information that we can give at this time.”
The Chinese diplomatic post in San Francisco issued a statement saying an “unidentified person drove violently into the document hall of the consulate, posing a serious threat to the safety of the staff and people at the scene, and causing serious damage to the facilities and property of the consulate.”
The consulate went on to say that it “strongly condemns this violent attack and reserves the right to pursue responsibility for the incident.”
A spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry said the individual drove violently into the lobby of the Chinese Consulate-General “in an attempt to kill the people at the scene and the staff.”
“China strongly urges the United States to conduct a prompt investigation” and take effective measures to ensure the safety of Chinese diplomatic institutions and personnel, said Wang Wenbin during a regular media press briefing on Tuesday.
The consulate said it would temporarily close its consular certificate hall from Oct. 10, in a statement released on its WeChat account. The consulate said it would inform the public when services will resume.
The State Department did not immediately respond to a Reuters’ request for comment on the incident.
An ABC television affiliate station in San Francisco reported its news crews observed a man covered in blood being carried away from the scene on a stretcher and rushed into an ambulance.
(Reporting by Nathan Frandino in San Francisco; Writing and additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Additional reporting by Bernard Orr in Beijing, Daniel Trotta in Carlsbad, California, and Michelle Nichols in New York, Editing by Sam Holmes, Kim Coghill and Michael Perry)