The strange and sad saga of San Francisco political operative Ryan Chamberlain, whose Polk Street apartment was raided by the FBI under suspicion of explosives, and who later released what appeared to be a suicide note on Facebook, took a dramatic—and relieving—turn last night, as Chamberlain was arrested in his car near the Golden Gate Bridge after being spotted drinking in a Lower Haight bar.
It took only moment for friends of the well-connected Chamberlain, who worked on Gavin Newsom's 2003 mayoral campaign, to launch a crowdsourced legal defense fund on Crowdtilt. As of early this morning, the fund had raised over $6,000 from friends and supporters, both in San Francisco and around the country.
For dramatic video of Chamberlain's arrest, see here.
As part of the fundraising pitch, organizer Adriel Hampton wrote, "Ryan in his postings has said that he went to a bad place. He also said it's been a year—just imagining waiting that long for a knock at your door, and then it happens and the press makes up all kinds of crazy stories about what it is you actually did. He must be in so much pain right now. [...] Ryan's friends are many of the most connected people in San Francisco and beyond and will help make sure he gets good attorneys and the help he needs. I've been talking to many of them through the night from here in DC and am so honored to be among this group of people who don't let fear stop them from caring for their friends."
Although details are still emerging about the state of mind of Chamberlain, from his online postings as well as social media conversations, it appears that the 42-year old political operative suffered from a long-term depression that led to the recent events. He is currently being held in custody.
At a press conference held this morning, the FBI declined to comment on what had led to the original search, although officers did express that he had "items of great concern." The FBI also reported that it had received hundreds of tips during yesterday's manhunt. Chief of Police Greg Suhr said that Chamberlain "resisted arrest" and praised officers who "overcame that resistance without injury to themselves or Chamberlain."
Chamberlain is expected to appear in court later this morning. Check back for updates on this developing story.
Update 9:24 a.m.: According to a reporter with the Examiner, Chamberlain will be charged with possession of explosive materials later today in federal court.
Update 11:55 p.m.: Chamberlain appeared in court this morning and "was charged with a count of possessing an illegal destructive device that carries a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine." He's expected back tomorrow and Thursday. An FBI source claimed that Chamberlain had acquired materials that could have been used to make explosives, but declined to specify how the FBI came to find Chamberlain.