According to the FBI's affidavit, bomb technicians allegedly found a messenger bag containing all the pieces necessary to create a remote-controlled improvised explosive device inside Ryan Chamberlain's San Francisco apartment on Saturday. Court documents, including the criminal complaint against Chamberlain, were unsealed Tuesday after the suspect was charged in federal court.
According to the criminal complaint, which we've embedded below, on Saturday FBI agents saw Chamberlain drive away from his apartment near Polk and Jackson streets with an unidentified woman. When Chamberlain returned on foot 30 minutes later, FBI agent Michael Eldridge confronted Chamberlain and invited him to talk at a nearby coffee shop. During a conversation at the coffee shop, Chamberlain "admitted that he was aware of the Tor network and that he sometimes played poker on ‘black market’ websites." (Tor is the same software for anonymous online activity that was used by alleged Silk Road drug kingpin Ross Ulbricht before his arrest in a San Francisco Public Library last October.)
After the coffee shop meeting, Chamberlain was allowed to leave, but was tailed by surveillance crews who observed him speeding and driving recklessly. When the chase became a danger to public safety, agents backed off and Chamberlain's whereabouts were apparently unknown at the time the complaint was prepared.
The search of his apartment then turned up the potentially explosive satchel bag. Agents X-rayed the bag and found it contained all the makings of a homemade, remote-detonated bomb crafted from a glass jar and packed with shrapnel. According to the affidavit, the bag contained:
- A screw top glass jar containing batteries and a powdery, green substance
- A model rocket motor lodged within the green powdery substance
- An ‘electric match,’ a common igniter for improvised explosive devices (“IEDs”)
- An assortment of ball bearings and screws believed to be intended projectiles
- A wire extending from the glass jar attached to the metal lid of the jar
- A circuit board, configured as a remote-controlled receiver.
FBI agents believed the green powdery substance to be an explosive and the model rocket motors are commonly used to ignite the powder.
An open laptop—apparently the one Chamberlain admitted he used to access black market websites—and a tool box containing, "apparent additional IED components similar to those used in the messenger bag device" were also found in the apartment. On Sunday, FBI officials announced their manhunt and described Chamberlain as armed and dangerous.
As previously reported here, Chamberlain is in custody after hanging out at a bar in the Lower Haight and near the beach in Crissy Field. He is scheduled to return to court on Thursday morning and there are already conspiracy theories flying around. Chamberlain is charged with possession of an illegal destructive device and faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
Read the full criminal complaint below:
Previously: All Ryan Chamberlain coverage on SFist