Man arrested in connection with bomb threat near federal courthouse

A 45-year-old man has been arrested in connection with a bomb threat near the federal courthouse in San Francisco where the Barry Bonds trial is taking place that shut down surrounding streets for several hours Tuesday.

Around 1:45 p.m., a police bomb squad safely detonated a backpack that had been left near Polk Street and Golden Gate Avenue, across the street from the federal building, police said. The blast made the ground shake outside City Hall and could be heard from several blocks away. Authorities have not revealed what was inside the backpack.

At around 10:45 p.m., cops received a report that a man walked into the Fresh A Floral shop at 499 Golden Gate Ave. and warned the backpack had a bomb in it, police spokesman Lt. Troy Dangerfield said.

The man then left the backpack on the sidewalk in front of the store before fleeing, Dangerfield said. Employees called police.

Hours after the incident, police said Garfield Smith was taken in to custody. He was no local address, but was booked for falsely reporting a bomb, placing a fictitious bomb and terrorist threats.

Streets surrounding the intersection were closed off to allow the police bomb squad to denoate the device. A shelter in place was ordered for the federal courthouse, as well as the state building on Polk and McAllister streets, Dangerfield said. A construction site in the 400 block of Polk Street was evacuated, he said.

The area was reopened by 4 p.m. Tuesday.

But, while cops worked on detonating the backpack, the Bonds trial continued, with former Oakland Athletics slugger Jason Giambi taking the stand.

Bonds is battling charges that he lied to a grand jury when he denied knowingly taking performance-enhancing drugs.

The bomb threat was likely unrelated to the Bonds trial, given the location of the threat, Dangerfield said.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

Staff Writer Andrea Koskey and Bay City News contributed to this report.

Bay Area NewsCrimeCrime & CourtsLocalSan Francisco

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