Chinese officials and the FBI are looking into who perpetrated what they are calling a "violent crime" at the Chinese consulate in San Francisco on New Year's Day by setting a fire that heavily damaged the front door gate guarded by stone lions. Sam Brock reports.
The investigation into an attack on the Chinese consulate in San Francisco is now fully engaged on a federal level.
Firefighters arrived Wednesday night to see the front door ablaze at 1450 Laguna Street in the city's Lower Pacific Heights neighborhood.
The U. S. State Department and FBI both waded into the search for the person or persons responsible, a motive and a timeline for the events that transpired Wednesday night.
David Johnson, special agent for the FBI, told reporters that "an incendiary device fueled by gas" tore up the facade and entrance of the building, incredibly without any injuries.
"The FBI has opened a full investigation into this matter at this point in time," Johnson said.
But he added that the Bureau cannot elaborate on a possible motive or perpetrators, as it's still conducting an ongoing investigation.
Johnson said the act appears 'criminal' in nature, but not national security-related.
FBI spokesperson Peter Lee elaborated on that point, indicating officials do not believe there are any ties to terrorism, and that the explosion was "likely an isolated incident."
Lee said the FBI is also looking at the explosion as a possible hate crime and targeted act of arson- arousing the fears of community civic groups and legal alliances for Asian Americans.
"I do worry that this attack is a hate crime and it might generate other hate crimes from folks who feel that this sort of behavior is acceptable," said Michele Lew of Asian American Community Involvement. "And it's not acceptable."
The South Bay group advocates for some 10,000 to 15,000 Asian Americans in the Bay Area, and also provides health and social services.
Lew hopes that if the violence is labeled a hate crime, it doesn't continue to fuel stereotypes.
"Unfortunately, there's a common misperception that Asian Americans are perpetual foreigners in this country," she said. "And for Chinese Americans in particular, there's a myth that they are more loyal to China than to the United States."
To repel such stereotypes, Lew encourages civic involvement.
"Bringing Asian immigrations together with other communities and learning from each other so we can become a multicultural community that we all want," she said.
According to a statement released on the consulate's website Thursday by a Chinese Consulate spokesperson, a person was seen coming out of a minivan parked in front of the consulate's main entrance at about 9:25 p.m. and pouring two buckets of gasoline onto the front door before setting it on fire.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.