Thousands of attendees poured out of the Moscone Center in San Francisco to mill around the nearby street corners. Police blocked traffic passing between the two wings of the Moscone Center on Howard Street between Third and Fourth streets and brought in a canine unit to help search the cavernous conference center.
"I was in the middle of a presentation by EMC2 on the trade show floor. The speaker had just put on a strait jacket when somebody came up to him and whispered into his ear," recalls Carol Pasq, a San Francisco computer consultant who had just arrived at the show minutes before and was surprised by the police cars in front of the building.
"The speaker said, 'Why don't you take this thing off me.' After being helped out of the strait jacket, he announced that the building was being cleared because of a bomb scare," Pasq says. A calm public-service announcement was made on a "security threat" during a keynote address being made at the time by Oracle VP Ken Jacobs. Attendees appeared to exit the building without mishap.
As some show floor attendees were on their way out, the escalator carrying people toward the exits stopped and reversed direction, Pasq says. Because of recent knee surgery, she searched for an escalator that was still running in the right direction to get out of the building.
The show had been due to close for the day at 4:30 p.m. and is scheduled to continue through Thursday. But as access to the building remained blocked into the afternoon, attendees disappeared in the direction of their hotels and nearby bars and restaurants.
Helicopters circled overhead, reporting on traffic tie-ups as the San Francisco Police Mobile Command Team Two showed up to search the building.
A Seybold Seminar 2003 was going on at the same time in the new west wing of the Moscone Center along Fourth Street between Howard and Mission. Attendees there were also ordered to vacate as the main conference center emptied out.