Another bottle bomb device explodes at AMC Tysons movie theater
FAIRFAX, Va. (AP/WJLA) - Officials say that for the second time in a week someone set off a bottle bomb at a movie theater complex in Fairfax County, leading to the evacuation of the theater but no injuries.
Fairfax County fire officials say the latest incident happened around 2 a.m. Sunday at the AMC Tysons Corner 16 movie theater. The device exploded near theater number one toward the end of a showing of the new X-Men movie.
For Falls Church teen Kevin Tran, it was an amazing movie night, rudely interrupted by a Gatorade bottle flying past his head.
"When it lands on the ground, it makes a big popping sound...in the corner, you can see smoke coming out from the bottle, and everyone just starts panicking," he recalls.
"It sounded like a gunshot. It was loud as a pretty compressed balloon, just popping."
That pop, investigators say, was a bottle bomb explosion that yet again forced the evacuation of a D.C. area movie theater, the second incident at the AMC Tysons Corner in a week.
But this time, Kevin and his friend were splashed with a liquid that had a vinegar-like odor.
"It was bubbling and fizzing," the high school senior says. "Didn't eat through the skin, but there was a burning sensation."
Tran and his friend were checked out by medical personnel, but didn't need to be transported. His left arm now has a slight scar. They were among 300 patrons that had to be evacuated.
Fortunately, the two were okay, but after the incident some customers aren't sure they want to keep coming.
"I am a little concerned about it. To be honest with you, it would stop me from coming to this movie theater," says Steve Caudill.
But others say it won't stop them.
"You can't let people like that keep you from going out and having a good time with your family and friends. Just keep your eyes open," says Eric Koefoot.
But Kevin says this has to stop:
"I think it's pretty crazy, we're just sitting in a movie theater and we're thinking, this should be safe...[but] these safe places aren't really safe anymore."
As for fire investigators, this is much more than a prank.
"A device that explodes. People hear it, they recognize it's not a gunshot," says Deputy Chief Mike Reilly, with the Fairfax County Fire Marshal's Office.
Authorities in Fairfax and Prince George's County are now investigating several separate incidents, which include the planting of two devices at a Tysons showing of the movie 'Godzilla' just last week, a third device at an AMC theater in Largo early Saturday, another on April 5 at the AMC Hoffman in Alexandria, and now the newest incident, again at Tysons.
Investigators say the liquids at both of the Tysons incidents are similar.
"It's a fairly dangerous acid," Reilly says. "If you get it on your skin it will create a chemical burn, if you get it in your eyes, you could lose your eyesight."
The fire marshal's office is combing through mall surveillance video. There is no motive, and there are no suspects, authorities say.
Tran says he hopes whoever did this will be caught soon.
"This is definitely not a cool thing," he says. "This can harm people."
The AMC Movie Theater chain is offering a $25,000 reward for information