Calling him "part of the San Francisco political family" and saying that "no one should be tried in the press," former investigator for the City Attorney's office Adriel Hampton launched a crowdfunding campaign yesterday aiming to collect $30,000 from friends of Chamberlain's for his legal defense or "to use as he sees fit as he gets back on his feet" should he choose to use a public defender. So far, 83 people have donated a total of $11,000.
Meanwhile, in federal court today, Chamberlain's current public defender requested a full psychiatric evaluation for Chamberlain, which was then ordered by a federal magistrate. Chamberlain is being held without bail and has not yet entered a plea.
Just to recap, Ryan Chamberlain caught the attention of the FBI some time last week, apparently via his use of black-market websites and his alleged attempt to gather materials to build an improvised explosive device (IED). During a raid of his Russian Hill apartment, investigators indeed found such a device contained in a messenger bag, which consisted of a screw-top glass jar; batteries; a powdery, green substance; an 'electric match' igniter; a model rocket motor used for remote ignition; ball bearings likely meant to be projectiles; and an improvised remote control device.
Chamberlain made no reported threats against any people or organizations, and the FBI has remained quiet as to what, if any, his actual motives may have been.
Simply being in possession of such a device means Chamberlain could face up to 10 years in prison, and a fine of $10,000.
In his apparent suicide note, posted online Monday, Chamberlain admitted to having "morbid fantasies" in the midst of long periods of depression, and alluded to internet "activity" that had apparently caught the attention of the feds, who questioned him on Saturday morning before he fled in his car.
Just to editorialize a second here, the assembling of such a device, and the general lucidity and self-awareness with which Chamberlain wrote his goodbye letter, suggest something more complicated than mere depression, motivated more by a sense of deep frustration, and anger, with the world at large. It will be interesting to hear what the results of the psych evaluation are, and it's equally intriguing to see the rallying of support from friends behind a man who may or may not have been intending great harm to one or more human beings.
Even before Chamberlain was in custody, in true San Francisco distrust-all-government fashion, Twitter followers immediately responded to Chamberlain's single tweet on Monday suggesting the FBI was going to make him "accidentally fall on a dozen bullets," and making reference to Ibragim Todashev, the man tangentially connected to the Boston Marathon bombing who was killed during questioning by the FBI. Then, following Chamberlain's arrest, more conspiracy theories began flying, suggesting that Chamberlain was far more powerful of a political activist, or operative, than he really was.
Nonetheless, as Hampton says on the CrowdTilt page, "Let's help him out. A little love instead of fear in the world goes a long way."