For Immediate ReleaseJanuary 22, 2015
Exploded wheelchair tires believed to be the source
San Rafael, CA – Two loud bangs led to a temporary closure and partial evacuation of the Marin County Civic Center on Thursday morning, and the source was believed to be overinflated wheelchair tires that exploded near the Board of Supervisors Chamber.
At 9:47 a.m., just as a Marin County Sheriff’s Office awards ceremony was concluding inside the board chamber, the first bang shook the Administrative Wing of the Civic Center somewhere in the vicinity of the board chamber. The Sheriff’s dispatch center received reports that described the bang sounding like a gunshot. Law enforcement personnel from the Sheriff’s Office and other local agencies who had taken part in the ceremony immediately began an investigation into the source of the bangs. No visitors were allowed inside the Administrative Wing and no one was let out of the building.
Employees in some nearby offices were asked to move outside the building, and the County Administrator’s Office sent an all-staff email asking Civic Center employees to stay in their offices while the investigation took place.
A second loud bang was heard about 5 minutes after the first one. With offices in lockdown mode, Sheriff’s deputies and San Rafael Police Department officers went into each office in the Administrative Wing to investigate and ensure the safety of employees. No evidence was discovered.
The wheelchair belonged to a visitor who had been inside the board chamber for the award ceremony. When the man got back into his wheelchair just outside the board chamber, he noticed the exploded tires and several people in the hallway noticed rubber remnants on the floor. The man was interviewed and “we felt comfortable that the tires were the source of the noise,” Sheriff’s Lt. Doug Pittman said.
The “all clear” was issued at 10:37 a.m. and normal business resumed at the Civic Center.
One nearby school, Venetia Valley School on North San Pedro Road in San Rafael, went into lockdown mode as a precaution for the duration of the Civic Center incident.
The Marin County Civic Center, a National Historic Landmark designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, has emergency protocols in place for such incidents and evacuations. According to a recent count, about 970 employees work at the Civic Center.
Doug PittmanLieutenantMarin County Sheriff's Office
Emergency Operations Facility1600 Los Gamos DriveSan Rafael, CA 94903(415) 747-2191Email: Doug PittmanSheriff-Coroner website