May 30, 2006

No danger found after San Francisco City Hall scare

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - San Francisco City Hall briefly
closed on Tuesday morning after officials found three
suspicious bags, but the devices were later found to be
harmless, a police spokeswoman said.

"We had three suspicious items rather than one," said Maria
Oropeza, police spokeswoman. "Police secured the area and the
bomb squad was moving through quickly."

A bomb squad, police and fire officials went to the scene
and several neighboring streets were closed off on a warm sunny

"This happens about six or seven times a year where there
is a scare," Peter Ragone, spokesman for Mayor Gavin Newsom
told Reuters. "They generally respond with the utmost caution."

Several buildings or stores in San Francisco have been
evacuated over the past year because of bomb scares, but all
turned out to be false alarms.

Ragone said the mayor was not present during the brief
scare. With a soaring dome based on St. Peter's at the Vatican,
San Francisco's early 20th century City Hall is one of the
city's best-known buildings.

Police initially had said the building was evacuated, but
Oropeza said police had issued only a shelter in place order
for City Hall, which meant no one could enter or leave the
building during the investigation.

Officials noticed the suspicious packages outside City Hall
at 7:30 a.m. Many homeless people frequent the area around the
majestic building and sometimes leave objects behind.

The general public was briefly kept from entering the
nearby San Francisco Superior Court, a court administrative
official said.