SAN FRANCISCO - A suspect has been arrested after allegedly tossing explosives from his car at police during a chase from San Francisco to Martinez, authorities said.
Daniel Garcia, 42 of Concord, was booked into San Francisco County Jail on multiple felony charges including three counts of attempted murder, three counts of unlawful possession of an explosive device, two counts of igniting an explosive device with the intent to commit murder, aggravated assault, among other charges.
The chaos started soon after police heard that a parishioner had been punched unconscious by Garcia during mass at a Catholic Church in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood on Sunday, around 5:50 p.m.
Garcia had allegedly demanded money from the parishioner before the assault.
"The suspect violently assaulted this parishioner, punching them in the head," said Deputy Chief David Lazar from the San Francisco Police Department. "We believe that the parishioner went unconscious temporarily."
Others at the church ran to help that parishioner and called 911. Police arrived minutes later and that's when they say Garcia took off in a car, with police following him through the streets of San Francisco as he threw what police described as pipe bombs out of his vehicle. The first explosion was heard near Jackson and Jones Streets in San Francisco.
"It was like a huge explosion," said David who didn't want to say his last name. "It wasn't just like gunshots or firecrackers. It was just, like the whole thing reverberated. Car alarms went off and everything."
Scorch marks from explosive could be seen on the street on Monday. Police continued chasing the suspect down 8th Street near Market Street where he threw out another explosive.
"The suspect threw out a secondary device at the officers," said Deputy Chief Lazar. "[Officers] saw that device go out of the window at 8th and Mission. That device detonated as well. They could see the flames and they could feel the explosion. They thought that that was a larger explosion than the first one up on Jones Street."
Garcia then fled over the Bay Bridge and into the East Bay, and crashed in Martinez about 30 minutes after the chase began. Video shows a bomb-seeking robot checking the wrecked car's trunk.
The California Highway Patrol said troopers found items in the car that seemed to be ingredients for making explosives.
Peter Marlow, spokesman for the San Francisco Archdiocese, offered a different explanation for what happened inside the church.
He said that Garcia had been asked to consume the consecrated host at Communion, and when he was reprimanded about not taking it, punched another person and ran out of the church.
Police say they have reached out to the federal government for assistance.
"We got a hold of the [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] right away, they responded and they've been with us ever since this incident occurred," said Deputy Chief Lazar.
Monday afternoon, KTVU saw investigators searching a home in Concord. KTVU asked San Francisco police if they were worried about the possibility of more explosives at that suspects home, they said they took that possibility very seriously.
Garcia could be in court to be formally charged as early as Wednesday.