SF suspect in FBI manhunt arrested near Crissy Field 

click to enlarge A bomb squad technician removes items from Ryan Chamberlain II’s vehicle in the Crissy Field parking lot after Chamberlain’s arrest. - MIKE KOOZMIN/THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Mike Koozmin/the S.F. Examiner
  • A bomb squad technician removes items from Ryan Chamberlain II’s vehicle in the Crissy Field parking lot after Chamberlain’s arrest.

A 42-year-old San Francisco political consultant and social-media expert who was the subject of a manhunt was arrested Monday evening, two days after his home was searched by the FBI for explosives.

Ryan Kelly Chamberlain II was taken into custody shortly before 6:30 by San Francisco police near Crissy Field and St. Francis Yacht Club, according to the FBI.

Two police officers were patrolling the area shortly after 6 p.m. when they saw a vehicle matching the description of car connected with Chamberlain and ran the license plate, according to a law enforcement source close to the investigation. The officers then conducted what they called a "high-risk approach" of the man, who was outside of the vehicle, and detained him without incident, the source said.

Morgan Manos, 32, an Uber driver who witnessed the arrest near Crissy Field, told The San Francisco Examiner he was charging his plug-in hybrid vehicle when he heard a commotion.

Manos looked over and saw a man standing by a four-door white sedan whom Manos recognized as the suspect in photos released from the FBI. The man was wearing shorts, a sweat shirt and a beanie cap.

Manos said he then saw several police officers, FBI and U.S. Department of Homeland Security agents converge on the scene and surround the man. The Uber driver filmed the events on his iPhone as officers brought the suspect to the ground. As the man was being arrested, he said to Manos, "Help me," the Uber driver recalled.

"I was surprised. Why would he be down here watching the ocean," Manos said of the suspect who was the subject of a nationwide alert.

Prior to the arrest, a series of strange missives that appeared to be attributed to Chamberlain emerged Monday morning on social media.

Chamberlain, who the FBI described as possibly dangerous and who allegedly had bomb-making materials in his Russian Hill apartment, posted what could be interpreted as a goodbye note online and then another message contradicting the first.

The first message, a long letter about his depression and a litany of troubles, concluded by saying "time's up." The second message denied his characterization in the media by authorities as a dangerous man.

The FBI's search warrant has been sealed to the public.

When asked if Chamberlain was present and or searched when the warrant was served, FBI spokeswoman Alice Heller, wrote: "It was only a search warrant. No arrest warrant was issued at the time of the search."

Early Monday, a note, automatically posted through an iCloud account with the username Ryan Chamberlain and sent to his friends, read like a man at his wits end, listing money, relationship and work problems linked to a deep depression.

"You're reading this. That means we probably don't know each other anymore," the letter opened. "I've timed this note ... and now it's live, which means I wasn't around to stop it from posting."

After writing about the depression he has endured since childhood, the note explains that he has lost everything that mattered, specifically his job and his girlfriend.

"I was absolutely alone," it read.

Then the note explained the hole he had fallen into.

"I got dark. I got real dark. I explored myriad ways I could put an end to what I was going through. I binge-watched dark TV, sometimes didn't get off the couch for days, and scoured the Internet absorbing fuel for morbid fantasies. Some of that activity seemed to attracted the attention of some visitors today...who have made it rather evident that this is the end of the line for me."

Near the letter's end, he mentions a friend, Amy, who got as close as anyone to pulling him from the abyss.

"I guess it was just insurmountable, and the time's up," it said.

But then another message, later in the day, surfaced on what appears to be his Twitter feed, @poliholic. Chamberlain's website is www.poliholic.com.

"A panicked update to my letter that should have posted by now," it began. "Nothing they're reporting is true. No 'stashes.' Not 'armed and dangerous.' No car 'rigged to explode.' I explored some ugly websites, a year-ish ago. I was depressed. I let Walter White [of TV's "Breaking Bad"] get to me. I thought I was done. That's it. No one was ever in danger. And recently I was all better. I owe my friends and my girlfriend for that. But I guess I did enough for the damage to be done. I'm so sorry everyone...."

Hours later, he was in custody.

In addition to law enforcement, the San Francisco police bomb squad was called to the scene of the arrest. The entrances to Crissy Field were cordoned off during the investigation, and Chamberlain's vehicle was searched by the bomb squad.

About The Author

Jonah Owen Lamb

Jonah Owen Lamb

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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