Ryan Chamberlain, SF suspect in FBI bomb case, appears in court 

The San Francisco man who was the subject of a three-day manhunt before his arrest Monday night in a Crissy Field parking lot appeared in federal court in The City on Tuesday morning to face charges.

Ryan Kelly Chamberlain II is charged with illegal possession of destructive devices in connection with a search of his Russian Hill home Saturday night by the FBI.

The search, according to the criminal complaint, uncovered components of a device believed to be a homemade bomb that “was designed to maim or kill a human being or human beings.”

In court, Chamberlain wore the same clothes he was arrested in – a blue long sleeve shirt and blue shorts – and said little except to acknowledge that he understood the charges against him and to confer with his public defender.

Neither Chamberlain nor his attorney had seen the complaint, which was partially unsealed after the proceedings.

Federal prosecutor Philip Joseph Kearney requested that the complaint remain partially sealed because of the ongoing investigation. Federal Judge Nathanael Cousins, who presided, temporarily granted the motion, noting that he took issue with the request since it is a presumption that court proceedings are open to the public.

The judge also was concerned with the federal government’s apparent double standard, speaking about the case to the media in a news conference outside the courthouse and then asking the court to withhold information from the public. A status hearing was set on the issues for 11 this morning.

Chamberlain will remain in jail for the time being until a ruling has been made after his custody hearing, which was set for 9:30 Thursday morning.

The criminal complaint is embedded below. It states the FBI found a messenger bag in Chamberlain's apartment, which 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, 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, and a circuit board, configured as a remote-controlled receiver.

The FBI believes the green substance to be explosive material.

The complaint further states that additional tools were found on a shelf in Chamberlain's kitchen. The FBI located "what appeared to be a tool box including wires and a 'clothespin switch,' commonly used in assembling IEDs and booby-traps," on a kitchen shelf, according to the complaint.

The FBI said that its agents met with Chamberlain when the search warrant was served at his apartment on Saturday, but allowed him to leave.

According to the complaint, Chamberlain walked up to his apartment 30 minutes after the search of the premises began. FBI Special Agent Michael P. Eldridge approached him and invited him to talk at a nearby coffee shop.

"Inside the coffee shop, Chamberlain admitted that he was aware of the Tor network, and that he sometimes played poker on 'black market' websites," the complaint states, referring to a network that offers users anonymity online. "After a short interview, Chamberlain was allowed to leave the coffee shop at his request."

In social-media posts yesterday, Chamberlain wrote that his online activity may have led to scrutiny from the FBI. "I explored some ugly websites, a year-ish ago," Chamberlain wrote on Facebook. "That's it. No one was ever in danger."

Law enforcement sources close to the case said reports that the FBI found ricin at Chamberlain’s apartment are false.

Ryan Chamberlain Criminal Complaint

Jonah Owen Lamb

Jonah Owen Lamb

Bio:
Born and raised on a houseboat in Sausalito, Lamb has written for newspapers in New York City, Utah and the San Joaquin Valley. He was most recently an editor at the San Luis Obispo Tribune for nearly three years. He has written for The S.F. Examiner since 2013 and covers criminal justice and planning.
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