Bomb Delivered to U.S. Office in S.F. Injures 2 Women

Times Staff Writer

A small bomb hidden in a box of flowers exploded Monday in federal government offices on the 33rd floor of a downtown high-rise, injuring two women. Federal authorities said they believe the incident may have been a “family-type problem.”

The bomb exploded at 2:55 p.m. as a 42-year-old federal employee, Pamela Castro, opened a box that witnesses said was delivered by a man in a formal dinner jacket.

Castro suffered second-degree burns on her face and chest, and cuts on her right leg. The other woman, Melanie Polanski, 41, suffered first-degree burns on her hands. Both women were taken to Mission Emergency Hospital, where nurses said they were in fair and stable condition.

Three hours after the explosion, police said they were seeking 27-year-old Shawn Small in connection with the bombing. Small was described as 5 feet, 10 inches tall, 150 pounds, with black hair and mustache.


The bomb was believed to be delivered by a man wearing a white tuxedo and eye makeup, who left the 38-story Tishman Building in a taxi. San Francisco Police Inspector Ken King would not say what relationship, if any, Small may have had with either of the victims.

The explosion occurred in offices of the contracts and procurement section of the U.S. General Services Administration. In 1975, a bomb meant for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms destroyed an elevator on the 34th floor of the same building, injuring a janitor and four guards. Leftist terrorists claimed responsibility.

However, political motives are not suspected in Monday’s explosion, said Don Ross, district supervisor of the Federal Protective Service, a police agency that guards federal buildings.

“At this point,” he said, “we do not suspect terrorist activity. We feel it is probably a family-type problem.”


San Francisco Police Sgt. Manuel Barretta agreed.

“I believe it was aimed at an individual,” he said. "(It was) delivered to an individual, so I assume it was intended at (sic) an individual, not an establishment.”

Ross said the bomb “may have been a flash-type powder--an incendiary device that exploded when she opened it up.” Neither man speculated on which woman may have been the target.

After the blast, police evacuated the 33rd floor of the building, which stands at Market and 1st streets in the city’s financial district. Police said there was some burn and smoke damage to furniture and walls, but no walls were knocked down nor were any windows blown out.


Twenty minutes after the explosion, an anonymous caller warned that a second bomb had been left on the 28th floor, which houses the regional administrative and personnel offices of the GSA. Police evacuated and searched that floor, but no bomb was found.