Jul 29, 2014

Tyson's Movie Theater Evacuated Again, After Second 'Soda Bottle Bomb' Incident in One Week

A soda bottle bomb exploded 30 minutes earlier Sunday at an AMC theater in Largo, Md. It's the fourth "bottle bomb" incident at an AMC theater in the DC area since April 5.

Tyson's Movie Theater Evacuated Again, After Second 'Soda Bottle Bomb' Incident in One Week Tyson's Movie Theater Evacuated Again, After Second 'Soda Bottle Bomb' Incident in One Week
(Editor's note: This story has been updated with comments from Michael Reilly, deputy chief of Fairfax County Fire and Rescue.)

Movie patrons at AMC Tyson's Corner 16 were evacuated from movie theaters Sunday morning at about 2:15 a.m., after a "soda bottle bomb" went off in the movie theater, located in a popular shopping district of Fairfax County in Northern Virginia, according to a report by WNEW/AP.

About 30 minutes away in Maryland, the same thing happened about 30 minutes earlier. A soda bottle bomb went off Sunday morning at about 1:40 a.m. at the  AMC Magic Johnson Capital Center 12 movie theater in Largo, during a showing of X-Men: Days of Future Pastaccording to The Washington Post.

Two teenage boys at Tyson's were splashed with substance from the homemade bomb and were "decontaminated" at the scene, according to Michael Reilly, deputy chief of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department. They are not injured, he said.

Sunday morning's device appeared to be hurled from the audience, in Tyson's Theater #1, bouncing off a railing toward the front of the theater, according to Reilly. He said he could not reveal whether any witnesses were able to give a description of the person who threw the device.

For Tyson's, it's the second time such an incident has happened at the movie theater, 7960 Tyson's Corner Center, within one week. T he first incident at Tyson's took place Sunday morning, May 18, just after midnight; all 16 theaters were evacuated during a showing of  Godzilla . The bottles were in Theaters #3 and #8. All theaters involved at Tyson's so far have been on the lefthand side, Reilly noted.

A few days later, police released 9-1-1 calls from last weekend's incident, hoping that the calls might help them catch a suspect. 

It is the fourth such incident in the D.C. area, since Saturday, April 5, when a bottle bomb was discovered at another AMC movie theater in nearby Alexandria. Reilly said they are not sure whether all of the incidents are the work of one person or persons.

In Alexandria: "Someone had thrown an improvised device made out of a 20-ounce soda bottle filled with a caustic substance outside of Theater #6 which caused the bottle to expand and eventually burst,"  WUSA-9 reported.

Police have described the homemade bombs as "soda bottle chemical devices."  The bottle bombs reportedly contain acid and metal shards and when it explodes, hurls its contents about 20 to 30 feet, according to fire officials. There have been no reported injuries, but two people were treated at the scene in Largo after Sunday's incident, according to the WNEW/AP report.

Reilly said the contents of the bottles are being investigated; over-the-counter products could be used, he said.

All four incidents have taken place at the showing of midnight movies at AMC movie theaters. AMC issued a statement after last week's incident, stating: "We will seek to ensure those found responsible are prosecuted to the full extent of the law," it said. There is no word on whether the company is stepping up security or searching bags at its theaters. AMC did not immediately return a call from Patch Monday morning.

Here's a timeline of the soda bottle bomb incidents in the DC area:

#1: Saturday, April 5, 1:15 a.m.: AMC Hoffman Center 22, 206 Swamp Fox Road, in Alexandria, Va.
#2. Sunday, May 18, before 1 a.m.: AMC Tyson's Corner 16, McLean, Va. About 2,000 people were evacuated from all 16 theaters.
#3. Sunday, May 25, 1:40 a.m.: AMC Magic Johnson Capital Center 12 in Largo, Md.
#4. Sunday, May 25, 2:15 a.m.: AMC Tyson's Corner 16, McLean, Va. 

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