The San Francisco Hall of Justice was put on lockdown Thursday morning, after police began investigating a bomb threat at a tow lot on 7th and Bryant streets which closed down Interstate 80 and U.S. Highway 101 for nearly three hours, causing a traffic nightmare for afternoon commuters.
Police declared the scene in the South of Market area safe and lifted a shelter in place around 2:30 p.m.
San Francisco police said that a suspicious note left on a car on the 400 block of 7th Street was what led to the investigation, but declined to describe its contents, citing the current investigation.
"We had our bomb squad out here as a precaution," SFPD spokesperson Officer Giselle Talkoff said.
SFPD tweeted about the threat at 11:31 a.m. and advised people to avoid the area.
The SFPD bomb squad brought a robot on scene shortly after 11 a.m. to detect explosives. Chopper footage showed the robot checking out the trunk of a white car parked in the AutoReturn tow lot on 7th Street. At one point the robot could be seen backing out.
Chopper footage showed what looked like a CNG (compressed natural gas) tank in the trunk of the car which closely resembled a Ford Crown Victoria. NBC Bay Area has not been able to confirm this information with police yet. CNG vehicles use clean air technology, reducing smog-forming and greenhouse gases.
NBC Bay Area reporter Jaxon Van Derbeken was inside the Hall of Justice when police ordered shelter in place around 11:30 a.m. He tweeted at 12:30 p.m. that the building, located at 850 Bryant Street, was almost empty after the lockdown was lifted and voluntary evacuations started.
The Hall of Justice remains closed as of 2 p.m. Cases in the criminal and traffic courts were rescheduled for Friday, per orders from the chief justice.