Last week, San Francisco was rattled by an alarming incident at the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China. The man behind the disturbance, 31-year-old Zhanyuan Yang, charged his blue Honda sedan into the lobby of the consulate at around 3 p.m. local time. The police have since confirmed he was armed with a knife, and a loaded crossbow was found in his car. The incident culminated in a lethal confrontation with law enforcement.
A town hall held by the San Francisco Police Department this Thursday provided further insight into the unfolding of the attack. Officials offered a detailed account, complete with 911 calls and body camera footage from responding officers.
In a chilling revelation, a bodycam video revealed the procession of events following the arrival of an officer on the scene — a blue sedan crashed into a building, a man clad in a blue T-shirt and pants obscuring his face, and an ensuing altercation. The man, Yang, was ultimately pinned against a wall and shot by an officer when he brandished a knife.
The San Francisco Police Acting Cmdr. Mark Im elucidated during the town hall, “As the sergeant and the security guard pinned Mr. Yang from behind against the wall, Mr. Yang rotated toward the sergeant and the security guard and exposed the knife in his right hand.” Im further detailed that Yang exhibited “multiple, rapid downward swinging motions with the knife”.
Prior to the arrival of the police, consulate security guards attempted to subdue Yang with pepper spray. A subsequent investigation led to the retrieval of a loaded CenterPoint crossbow and arrows from the scene. Images of these items, found in the back seat of Yang’s crashed sedan, were released. However, investigators have yet to establish a motive.
Witness accounts from 911 calls depict a chaotic scene of about 30 people scrambling for safety as Yang’s vehicle careened into the consulate. Sergii Molchanov, an eye witness, managed to get video footage of people frantically navigating past the wreckage. He was waiting to submit visa documents when Yang made his unexpected entry through the main door.
A factor presumably attributed to the attack was Yang’s vocal questioning of the whereabouts of the Chinese Communist Party, “Where is CCP?” These details, apart from his struggle with the security guards, were also related by Molchanov. “Terrified visitors, including myself, ran and then police arrived,” he recalled, and also mentioned hearing two gunshots.
In the aftermath, the crash has invoked alarm and vehement protest. A statement laid out by the Consulate General of China in San Francisco highlights the “serious damage” and life-threatening circumstances. There were immediate demands for a thorough investigation and resolution in adherence to the law.
The ensuing investigation led by San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott has since resulted in numerous search warrants and seizures from Yang’s apartment. While the procurement of evidence is underway, no specific motive has been firmly established for the brazen act.