California explosives suspect charged with possession of an illegal device
(CNN) — The man arrested near the Golden Gate Bridge after dangerous materials were found in his home was charged with possession of an illegal device Tuesday.
Ryan Kelly Chamberlain II was unemotional during the 15-minute hearing in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. Judge Nathaniel Cousins ordered a status conference in the case for Wednesday and a detention hearing Thursday.
Chamberlain, 42, was arrested Monday night at Crissy Field, a scenic waterfront area popular with tourists where the landmark bridge spans the Pacific entrance to San Francisco Bay.
Authorities had been looking for him after searching his neighborhood Saturday on a tip that he had “items of great concern” at his home, FBI Special Agent in Charge David Johnson told reporters.
He wouldn’t elaborate on what the materials were. Spokesman Peter Lee had earlier described the items as explosives. Lee said no ricin had been found in the home, contrary to some reports.
The block was closed for some 15 hours over the weekend as investigators searched and cleared the area, CNN affiliate KTVU reported.
If convicted of the illegal device possession charge, Chamberlain faces up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Johnson declined to say what, if anything, Chamberlain had planned to do or what motivated him.
San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr said without elaborating that it was clear Chamberlain was “absolutely growing more desperate.”
“This subject, Mr. Chamberlain, was a very dangerous and desperate person,” Suhr said.
According to CNN affiliate KPIX, Chamberlain had posted an apparent suicide note to friends on Facebook titled “Goodbye.” The letter describes a history of depression, despair over a broken relationship and career problems.
“In the span of a few months, everything that mattered to me betrayed me,” the writer said.
Lee said investigators were trying to verify the origin of the post.
Howard Epstein, a former chairman of the San Francisco Republican Party, told KTVU that Chamberlain worked with the local GOP before switching to work on the Democratic side.
“The only one I know that he worked with after he left the party was Gavin Newsom,” Epstein told KTVU. “He was an organizer when Gavin ran for mayor.” Newsom, a Democrat, is now California’s lieutenant governor.
In the letter, the writer says he’s had some positive moments in the past few months.
“But so much was broken from this past year-and-a-half, and from moments way back before that, I guess it was insurmountable, and the time’s up,” the writer says. “Thank you. I’m sorry. I love you.”