Waymo car set on fire, vandalized in San Francisco's Chinatown, video shows

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Monday, February 12, 2024
Witnesses describe moments when Waymo car was torched in SF Chinatown
We're learning more about a brazen act of vandalism on a driverless vehicle in San Francisco's Chinatown.

SAN FRANCISCO -- A Waymo car was set on fire and vandalized by a mob in San Francisco's Chinatown during Lunar New Year celebrations over the weekend. The frightening incident was captured on camera.

No one was inside the car and officials are vowing to make arrests.

"They were putting out some rage for really no reason at all. They just wanted to vandalize something, and they did," said witness Edwin Carungay.

Carungay came to Chinatown for Lunar New Year celebrations Saturday but never expected things would take a destructive turn like this.

"One young man jumped on the hood, and on the windshield. That kind of started the whole melee," Carungay said.

Witnesses say about a dozen people were involved. One person was seen on camera using a skateboard to break the car's windows.

"Then someone threw a firework inside the car," said Nathan Vandersteen, another witness.

Vandersteen said he watched the car fill with smoke and catch fire.

"Eventually people backed away. It was dangerous. The car could have exploded. It was a mob mentality, the adrenaline of the situation, it was mostly young teenagers responsible for damage and vandalism," said Vandersteen.

The fire department responded and put out the flames. By Sunday, debris and ash left behind told the story of what happened on Jackson Street, where the Waymo was set on fire.

In a statement, Waymo told our sister station ABC7 News: "The vehicle was not transporting any riders and no injuries have been reported. We are working closely with local safety officials to respond to the situation.'

The San Francisco Police Department said it's investigating, but so far, no suspects have been identified.

"It's totally unacceptable, particularly horrific they did it during Chinatown's most important day of the year, totally disrespectful," said San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin.

Peskin says police are collecting lots of video evidence of the crime in progress.

"I talked to them today. They've got good leads. I'm hopeful, if not confident, that arrests will be made," said Peskin.

Anyone with information is asked to contact San Francisco police at 415-575-4444 or text a tip to TIP411 and begin the message with SFPD.

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