The Prince George’s County Fire Marshal has arrested a 20-year-old Bowie man who admitted to responsibility for a string of bottle bombings at local movie theaters.
Manuel Joyner-Bell Jr. is charged with manufacturing, transporting and possessing destructive devices in six different incidents in the last six months, police said.
The destructive devices were acid-filled soda bottles which exploded when Joyner-Bell allegedly tossed them into movie theaters in Prince George’s County, northern Virginia, Anne Arundel County and Montgomery County. One incident occurred May 24 at the AMC Magic Johnson Capital Center 12 in Largo, and another happened the following night in AMC Tysons Corner in Fairfax County, Va.
Authorities arrested Joyner-Bell, a graduate of Charles Flowers High School, on Saturday following an investigation, said Prince George's County Fire Department Battalion Fire Chief Brain Radinsky.
He is being held on a no-bail status.
“This is not a hoax, a toy or a game, said Prince George's County Fire Chief Marc Bashoor. “We are taking this very seriously. People could have been injured.”
According to charging documents, Joyner-Bell purchased tickets on Fandango, an online movie ticket vendor, to theaters in the D.C. metropolitan region the same nights police reported finding improvised explosives in the theaters.
Investigators determined parts of the material used in the Largo incident matches material used at Tysons Corner movie theater, said Prince George's County Fire Department spokesperson Mark Brady.
The explosives were found in Gatorade and Lipton Brisk Pink Lemonade bottles, according to charging documents.
Joyner-Bell is also charged in connection to two different explosions at the Tysons Corner theater in Virginia, said Assistant Fire Chief Mile Reilly of the Fairfax County Fire Department.
Data collected from Joyner-Bell’s cell phone positions him near the theaters during the time of the incidents.
Joyner-Bell will also be charged with a felony for the incident at the theater in Arundel Mills Mall in Hanover, Md., two counts of felony for the incident at the theater in Silver Spring, Md., and three counts of felony for the incident in Alexandria, Va., according to officials.
Joyner-Bell admitted to all six incidents when arrested.
Building and detonating an improvised explosive device is a felony which carries a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison, according to the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office.
Bashoor said the investigation to track Joyner-Bell down has been one of the biggest police investigations since serial arsonist Thomas Sweatt terrorized the Washington metropolitan region in 2003 and 2004 with more than 300 fires.
Joyner-Bell’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 26.