Man Hurls Explosive Pyrotechnic Device Inside Crowded Pasadena Restaurant

Published : Thursday, February 2, 2017 | 9:09 PM

A man threw an explosive pyrotechnic device into the crowded Cheesecake Factory restaurant in Old Pasadena Thursday night, sending panicky diners streaming out the exits but causing no injuries, police and witnesses said.

Pasadena Police Lt. Art Chute reported that at about 6:08 p.m. a man opened the main entrance doors to the Cheesecake Factory, located on the southwest corner of the intersection of Colorado Boulevard and Fair Oaks Avenue, and tossed inside what appeared to be a home-made pyrotechnic explosive device containing gunpowder.

Emilie Elizabeth shot this picture through the restaurant's window about three hours after the event. The restaurant remained closed. "Looks like everyone left in a hurry," she noted.

The device discharged and issued smoke, causing customers to flee, according to witnesses.

There were no injuries, Chute said. Witnesses said there was no significant damage to restaurant.

KNBC-TV reports indicated that the device ended up underneath an unoccupied table which shielded the force of the explosion.

Fleeing diners left behind partially-eaten dinners, cell phones and even a baby stroller in their haste.

A woman who said she was dining in the restaurant said “a man (looked Middle Eastern) open[ed] the door to the restaurant, threw something that looked like a ball inside then closed the door and took off running, then within seconds you hear an explosion sound and everyone started running.”

Police said the suspect, whom they described as Hispanic or Middle Eastern in appearance, fled southbound on South Fair Oaks Avenue.

The suspect was dressed in black, wore a black beanie and had a “robust beard,” Chute said.

Chute said that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department bomb squad responded and rendered both the device and restaurant safe.

The suspect remains at large. An investigation is underway and the restaurant was closed. KABC-TV reports that Pasadena police have contacted the FBI “as a precaution.”

“This evening an incendiary device exploded within our Pasadena restaurant,” The Cheescake Factory said in a statement. “Thankfully, none of our guests or staff was injured. Law enforcement is actively investigating the incident and we hope to reopen in Pasadena on Friday, as usual.”

Anyone with information is asked to call Pasadena Police at 626-744-4241 or go to lacrimestoppers.com.