The arrest Monday evening of a San Francisco man suspected of hoarding explosives brought a bizarre three-day, multiagency manhunt to a close, but it so far offers few insight about the seriousness of the threat posed by an individual deemed to be emotionally distraught.
Ryan Chamberlain is expected to enter a plea to charges of possessing explosives when he appears in federal court in San Francisco Tuesday morning, FBI Special Agent in Charge David Johnson said at a televised media briefing. While there is no indication that Mr. Chamberlain laid plans to use those explosives, said Mr. Chamberlain, the suspect is "clearly somebody who was growing more desperate by the moment."
Authorities apprehended Chamberlain near San Francisco’s Crissy Field, just south of the Golden Gate Bridge, after he had engaged local police and FBI agents in a game of cat and mouse through most of Monday. The suspect "resisted arrest and the officers overcame the resistance without any injury to themselves or to Mr. Chamberlain," San Francisco Police Chief Greg Sur said at Tuesday morning's briefing.
Law enforcement officials had launched a nationwide manhunt and enlisted the public to help in Chamberlain’s capture after they allegedly uncovered explosive materials during a raid of his apartment on Saturday.
During a press conference Sunday, FBI spokesman Peter Lee said that although Chamberlain had made no specific threat, he should be considered armed and dangerous.
“Anyone who has the means, methods, and access to make a bomb should be considered armed and dangerous,” Mr. Lee said before the arrest, according to the Associated Press.
The news came as a shock to many who have worked with Chamberlain.
Brooke Wentz, Chamberlain’s superviser at the music rights consultancy group where he works as a social media manager, told AP she was “tremendously dumbfounded” by the news.
San Francisco Board of Education Vice President Emily Murase, who had hired Chamberlain as her campaign manager during her unsuccessful bid for the board in 2008, told the San Francisco Examiner that the news left her “just shocked and speechless.”
Some who were close to Chamberlain said he had a history of emotional problems, but they had never considered him dangerous.
“We all knew that he was a very emotional guy and when he didn’t get his own way he would say, 'Screw you, I’m going to do my own thing,’ ” one friend, Randy Bramblett, told the AP. “I’ve never seen him to be violent, ever, but I would definitely say that maybe emotionally and mentally he was a little unstable.”
After authorities raided apartment, Chamberlain appears to have posted a suicide letter to Facebook, entitled “Goodbye,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
“So much was broken from this past year-and-a-half, and from moments way back before that,” the three-page letter stated. “I guess it was just insurmountable, and the time’s up.”
A later note posted to Chamberlain's Twitter account on Monday afternoon denounced the FBI’s accusations and referred to a second letter he apparently had posted to Facebook.
In the second letter, which the San Francisco Examiner published in full, he went on to suggest that the raid had been prompted by Internet searches that he had conducted during a deep depression.
“You’re reading this. That means we probably don’t know each other anymore, and I owe everyone an explanation,” the letter reads. “I think I’ve been depressed for as long as I can recall.”