By Susie Steimle

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Police in San Francisco have confirmed that there was no merit to reports of an active shooter in the city’s Potrero Hill neighborhood Monday afternoon.

KPIX reporter Susie Steimle confirmed that police told reporters that the incident and investigation stemmed from a misunderstanding.


Two 911 calls set off the confusion. First, at 12:15 p.m., someone inside the building saw a man outside with a stick or a knife and called 911.

Next, building security told people to shelter in place. Somehow that got interpreted as an active shooter inside this office building.

That information was also disseminated through Citizen, a real-time, citizen-driven crime blotter app that allows anyone to post and share video.

“How that information became misinterpreted or shared, we’re still looking into that,” San Francisco Police Sergeant Michael Andraychak said.

Police said there were no shots fired and no known injuries after their investigation. Workers have been allowed to return to their evacuated building at 350 Rhode Island and streets have reopened that had been closed during the incident.

Earlier, San Francisco’s Department of Emergency Management issued an alert to avoid the area of Rhode Island and 16th Streets at about 12:45 p.m. due to police activity. Upon arriving, police evacuated the office building at 350 Rhode Island to search the structure due to the report of possible shots fired and an active shooter.

“We were just working a normal day then they came in and evacuated us,” B.J. Boyle said. He’s one of hundreds of people who work inside 350 Rhode Island who was forced to leave the building during the search.

The large group of evacuees gathered at the corner of 16th and De Haro Streets, most say they’re happy to see police respond in large numbers.

“I think they were very thorough that was prudent of them, we’d rather be here and be safe, this made the most sense,” Claire Zvanksi says about being evacuated.

“As for keeping everyone safe they did what they needed to do,” Marcos Vasquez said.

Few people reported being surprised when they thought an active shooter was in the building.

“No, you’re in the city you have to expect it. There’s a lot of people out here. You don’t know who is mentally deranged,” Vasquez said.

More than 38,000 people heard the news through an app called Citizen. It’s a real time crime blotter app that allows anyone to post information or videos. The app is live in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Baltimore.

Police cleared the scene allowing people to head back inside the building just after 3 p.m. on Monday.