SFPD, Bay Area Law Enforcement Increase Presence Following Brussels Attack

Bay Area law enforcement agencies are stepping up their presence this morning at airports and transit centers after deadly bombings at an airport and metro train station in Belgium reportedly killed at least 34 people and injured dozens of others earlier today.

The San Francisco Police Department has deployed extra officers at San Francisco International Airport, the Port of San Francisco, and at San Francisco Municipal Railway stations following the explosions at Brussels Airport and the Maalbeek metro station in Brussels, police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said.

“We’re asking the public if they see something, say something and to report any suspicious activity,” Esparza said.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said in a statement that city public safety agencies have reported to him that there is no known threat to San Francisco but that the city’s police remain on heightened alert.

“We stand with the people of Brussels and all of Belgium and stand strong against intolerance. We pray for the families of the victims of these senseless acts of violence,” Lee said.

Oakland International Airport has also increased its visible security presence, according to airport spokeswoman Keonnis Taylor, although she said she couldn’t talk specifically about any security measures.

President Barack Obama pledged the U.S. “will do whatever is necessary to support our friend and ally, Belgium, in bringing to justice those who are responsible.”

“And this is yet another reminder that the world must unite, we must be together, regardless of nationality, or race, or faith, in fighting against the scourge of terrorism,” Obama said.

The Islamic State group has taken credit for the two bombs that exploded at the Brussels Airport on Tuesday morning. About an hour later, another bomb exploded on a subway train near the European Union headquarters, according to European media reports.

Bay Area transit systems have also stepped up their security in response to the attack. BART police have beefed up their presence throughout the entire transit system, according to police Lt. Aaron Ledford.

Santa Clara Valley Transportation Agency officials said they have been consulting with federal intelligence partners, who have told them there is no known threat in the U.S.

Regardless, law enforcement agencies in Santa Clara County are on heightened alert, VTA officials said.

The Belgian airport remains closed and has not announced an expected time to reopen. Belgian emergency officials announced at about 5 p.m. local time that public transit was resuming, but lines at train stations were very long.

California and Bay Area politicians swiftly responded to the attacks with sorrow, sympathy and solidarity.

“California stands with the people of Belgium on this difficult day and we extend our prayers and condolences to all of those impacted by this latest round of terrorist assault,” Gov. Jerry Brown said in a statement.

State Attorney General Kamala Harris also offered her thoughts and prayers to the victims of the attack and their families.

“These senseless acts of violence are an attack on all of humanity, and we will stand with Brussels until those responsible are brought to justice,” Harris said.

Other local politicians called for action against the terrorists apparently responsible.

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer said, “My thoughts and prayers are with the families who lost loved ones in these horrific attacks and all of the injured. We stand with the people of Brussels and all of Europe as we join together to defeat these cowardly and barbaric terrorists.”

U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell said the attack “bears the signature” of the Islamic State group.

“They clearly are determined to plan and strike our allies across Europe, but have also demonstrated a reach that inspires lone wolves to attack us at home,” Swalwell said.

“We must not live in fear and should go about our regular activities, but our military must continue to pound ISIS in Iraq and Syria while our law enforcement and intelligence communities aggressively investigate all threats and leads at home,” Swalwell said.

Scott Morris and Daniel Montes, Bay City News

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