fedbombthreat.jpg3:55 PM: According to SFPD spokesperson Lt. Troy Dangerfield, the man they allege is responsible for the bomb threat that closed Civic Center for much of Tuesday has been arrested.

Police say that 45-year-old Garfield Smith has been booked for “false report of a bomb, placing a fictitious bomb and terrorist threats” after allegedly entering a store at 499 Polk Street and telling the occupants that there was bomb in the backpack he was carrying at around 10:45 this morning.

SFPD say that he then left the backpack on the sidewalk in front of 499 Polk Street and left the area. Police subsequently closed area streets, issued a shelter in place order for the court house and the State building on Polk and McAllister, and evacuated a construction site on the west side of the 400 block of Polk street.

The bomb squad detonated the backpack at around 1:45 this afternoon, and the area streets reopened at around 3 PM.

Smith, who police say has no local address, remains in police custody.

3:09 PM: As the Civic Center area reopens, a release from SFPD on today’s suspicious package detonation provides some more insight into what was behind today’s bomb scare.bomb scare.

“This morning at about 10:45am, there was call that a man came into 499 Polk street and told the occupants that there was bomb in the backpack.” says the release from Lt. Troy Dangerfield.

“He left the backpack on the sidewalk in front of 499 Polk street and left the area. The occupants called the police. We dispatched our Bomb Unit to responded. A perimeter was set up for safety. The Bomb Unit arrived at about 11:15am and started investigating the package.”

Dangerfield said in the release that “as of 02:55pm the all clear has not been given” Dangerfield says, and the area is “now a crime scene that needs to be processed before the street and be reopen(ed).”

Alert SF, however, says that “The Civic Center Area is now open. The issue has been resolved.”

2:29 PM: Bay City News has more details on the suspicious package threat that closed Civic Center and caused the SFPD bomb squad to detonate a backpack.

According to BCN, at around 10:50 this morning, a man told an employee at a store on the corner of Polk Street and Golden Gate Avenue that there was a bomb in his backpack, then placed the backpack on the ground and walked away, police Lt. Troy Dangerfield said.

Not knowing what was inside the backpack, police shut down nearby streets and called in a bomb squad.

A shelter-in-place order was issued for the San Francisco Superior Court building at McAllister and Polk streets, Dangerfield said.

A message sent out by loudspeaker at the nearby Federal Building warned employees to stay away from the Golden Gate Avenue side of the building.

At about 1:45 p.m., the bomb squad detonated the backpack. The blast made the ground shake outside City Hall and could be heard from several blocks away.

Dangerfield said it is not yet clear whether the backpack contained explosives, but said it is “quite normal” for police to detonate suspicious packages.

As of 2 p.m., Polk Street remained closed between McAllister Street and Golden Gate Avenue.

2:12 PM: Sarah says that the suspicious package was detonated at 1:43 PM, “right outside our courtroom, LOUD! trial went off the record for a bit for everyone to regroup. People were a little freaked.”

No word from city officials yet on when the area streets have reopened, Sarah reports that as of 2:18, they remain closed.

12:34 PM: Police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza told Bay City News that the suspicious package that’s caused Civic Center to close to traffic and pedestrians was reported at about 10:51 a.m. in the 400 block of Golden Gate Avenue, between Polk and Larkin streets.

BCN reports that an announcement was made over the loudspeaker at the Federal
Building at 450 Golden Gate Ave. just before noon that said “Attention please. This is not a drill. At this time, there is police activity on the Golden Gate side of the building. Occupants are asked to move away from the Golden Gate side of the building.”

Richmond SF Blog‘s Sarah B, who had jury duty in the area, sent the above picture. She describes the scene at Civic Center as “very mellow, some of the cops have left but the street is still closed off.”

The Sheriff’s department representatives Sarah spoke to said that they don’t know if they’re planning to blow up the package, but that an ambulance is on the scene as a precaution.

The SFPD bomb squad is at the scene and still determining whether the package is explosive, Esparza told BCN.

11:48 AM: As “suspicious package” has been spotted near Civic Center, causing street closures and warnings to avoid the area.

According to Alert SF, the notification system for San Francisco’s residents and visitors:

“Due to police activity and the street closures to pedestrians and vehicles around the Civic Center area we are requesting everyone please avoid the area. This is inclusive of Golden Gate Avenue to McAllister Street on Polk Street.”

The cause of the “police activity,” an SFPD spokesperson told the Appeal, is a “suspicious package” SFPD’s investigating.

He didn’t have any additional information, but if you do, please do let us know!

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the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at eve@sfappeal.com.

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