A man accused of lighting a gasoline fire at the front entrance of the Chinese consulate in San Francisco on New Year’s Day made a brief appearance in federal court today but gave up his right to have a bail hearing.
A defense lawyer for Yan Feng, 39, of Daly City, told U.S. Magistrate Elizabeth Laporte in San Francisco that for the time being, Feng would not oppose a bid by prosecutors to have him remain in custody.
Feng, through Federal Defender Steve Kalar, waived his right to a hearing without prejudice, meaning that he could renew a request for bail at a later date.
Laporte then ordered Feng to return to court on Feb. 12 for a status conference on the case.
Feng is charged in a federal criminal complaint filed on Jan. 6 with one count of arson and one count of willfully damaging property belonging to a foreign government.
He was arrested on Jan. 3 after he called Daly City police and said with the aid of a Mandarin interpreter that he was the individual who “made the fire” at the consulate, according to an FBI affidavit filed with the complaint.
In an interview with federal agents later that day, Feng allegedly said he targeted the consulate at 1450 Laguna St. because he had been hearing voices in Chinese and believed the consulate “had to have been involved,” the affidavit said.
FBI Agent Michael Eldridge wrote in the document that Feng allegedly said he placed three containers of gasoline near the building’s front entrance on the evening of Jan. 1, poured gasoline on the front door and front steps and attempted to light a fire with his passport.
When a fire did not light, Feng then used a large black lighter to ignite one of the containers, creating “a large fireball” at 9:32 p.m., the agent said.
No one was injured, but Eldridge said the fire caused substantial property damage.
Feng is a citizen of the People’s Republic of China who has legal permanent residency in the United States, according to the FBI.
Julia Cheever, Bay City News