Police are still trying to identify an “erratic” man who phoned in a bomb threat to George Washington High School while students were taking final exams last month.
The caller sent police on an hourslong manhunt May 20 throughout one of the more residential neighborhoods in San Francisco, telling hostage negotiators he was parked in a car at various places in the Richmond District and planned to blow up the campus.
While police scrambled to find him, the man made “a lot of hate references” about “certain groups” to the negotiators who kept him on the line, Richmond Police Station Capt. Paul Yep told the San Francisco Examiner on Tuesday.
Police evacuated the school, as well as two other schools in the neighborhood.
“We were not going to dismiss this as a prank call,” Yep said.
Since the caller indicated he would bring a bomb to campus, police created a barrier around Washington High and questioned anyone who tried to enter.
“Just by sheer luck, it was a half-day for students,” Yep said. “I felt that if this person wanted to get into the school, then we needed to get the kids home.”
Police dogs sniffed out an area along Anza Street, ensuring no bomb was present, and officers created a corridor for students to leave the building safely.
Hostage negotiators kept the man on the phone throughout the incident, but he said he would call back and hung up as students were leaving, Yep said.
That return call was complicated by parents calling the main office for more information on their kids’ safety, despite a message from the school district asking them not to call the school.
It’s unclear if the suspect ever phoned back. Yep said he hadn’t by the time he left the scene that day.
Before he hung up, the caller gave police at least one name over the phone, though authorities are
unsure whether that name was his own.
The Sheriff’s Department also told police that day they had received a similar call to a local hospital.