Police: Manuel Joyner-Bell, 20, admits to all 6 theater bottle bomb incidents
(AP/WJLA) - Manual Joyner-Bell, 20, of Bowie, Md., who was arrested Saturday in his home, has confessed to all six movie theater bottle bombs incidents in Maryland and Virginia, authorities said Monday.
This is the only glimpse we have of 20-year-old suspect Manuel Joyner in action. He is seen here walking in and out of a movie theater in Anne Arundel County on March 8 – during the first of six so-called bottled bomb explosions across the D.C. area.
Duct tape covers the address of Joyner’s family home on Stillwater Place in Bowie, where neighbors like Ronald Banks describe Joyner as a quiet, normal kid who didn’t bother anyone and kept to himself.
But law enforcement paints a very different picture. At a press conference held on Monday, authorities from Maryland and Virginia laid out the case against Joyner: 21 felony charges in all for the theater explosions.
Representatives from multiple agencies including police from Fairfax, Montgomery and Prince George's counties and federal ATF agents said that Joyner had confessed during questioning.
Court papers from Prince George’s County reveal that after the incident in Largo on May 24, bomb technicians “located a 1-liter bottle, Lipton Brisk, with a liquid/chemical inside…possibly consisting of an acid…possible aluminum foil.”
Documents also show that Joyner-Bell bought tickets to shows in Prince George’s and Fairfax via the purchasing website “Fandango,” and that he utilized Twitter to tweet updates on the media coverage.
Joyner-Bell works at the Home Depot in Bowie, and was arrested there on Saturday without resistance. Investigators may have information and evidence, but what they lack is an answer to the central question: Why?
Kevin Tran and a friend were watching a late showing of “X-Men” at Tyson’s Corner on May 25 when a bottle exploded, sending chemicals onto his arm.
"I was anticipating he would get caught because the crime wasn't sophisticated," says Tran.
Fairfax County Deputy Fire Marshal Mike Reilly agrees that the crimes were not sophisticated and could easily be researched online and carried out by someone with no training:
"Quite honestly, if you were gonna try and profile somebody of this type of event, you very well could come up with this individual."
Joyner-Bell is being held at the Prince George's County correctional facility. While originally his bail was set at an unprecedented $50 million, bond was removed entirely later in the day by a judge during a bail hearing.
Authorities said during the press conference that the unusually high initial bail amount and the depth and seriousness of the charges against Joyner were an indication that authorities do not take the incidents lightly, nor view them as a prank.
Police said the level of inter-agency cooperation ti bring Joyner-Bell to justice hasn't been seen in roughly 10 years.
Police said even further charges against Joyner were still possible.
On May 18, a multiplex was evacuated in Tysons Corner, Virginia, after two bottle explosions occurred. Police said acid and metal had been placed inside the bottles.
Another incident occurred at the same theater the following Sunday.
The first reported bottle bomb was set off March 8 at Cinemark Egyptian 24 in Hanover. Another was set off at a theater in Alexandria, Virginia, in early April.
Joyner-Bell has been charged with manufacture, possession and detonation with a destructive device, a felony that carries a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison, fire officials said.
A person who answered the phone at Joyner-Bell's home on Sunday said she was unaware of the arrest and did not say whether he had an attorney.
Online court records show Joyner pleaded guilty in late 2012 to malicious destruction of property and was given probation before judgment.