The FBI called it a routine search, but when the bomb squad and the hazardous materials team showed up at Ryan Chamberlain’s apartment this morning, so did a feisty neighbor.
As agents were conducting a follow-up search at the San Francisco apartment of the political and social media consultant charged with possessing explosives on Thursday, an attorney who works nearby challenged the FBI on its investigation.
Standing outside the apartment on the Polk Street sidewalk, attorney Patricia Barlow began battering FBI spokesman Peter Lee with questions, most of which had to do with the “green fuzz” mentioned in the complaint against Chamberlain, who was charged this week with possessing bomb-making materials.
- Raw video: Attorney Confronts FBI on "Green Fuzz"
“What’s the deal? Are there any dangerous substances in there?” Barlow asked in a thick New Zealand accent. “It just seemed to me, when I was looking at the complaint, the allegations in there didn’t seem to me that there was anything other than stuff you might find anywhere, any guy who likes playing with engines you know, computers or anything.”
Then Barlow started speaking about green fuzz.
“There didn’t seem to be any imaginable potential dangerous materials in any conceivable way,” Barlow said. “Green fuzz on the end of a battery? I’ve got that. Anywhere you have moisture and a battery, you’ve got green fuzz. Has that been tested yet? Why is it taking them that long to conduct the test?”
The “green fuzz” Barlow was referring to stems from the federal affidavit unsealed on Tuesday.
FBI Special Agent Michael Eldridge stated in court documents that agents found “a green powder,” along with a model rocket motor, a circuit board, ball bearings, screws, batteries and an electric igniter in Chamberlain’s apartment - materials for a remote-controlled bomb that was "designed to maim or kill.” The materials were discovered Saturday during the first search of Chamberlain's apartment.
Lee, fully aware that cameras were capturing the exchange, remained patient with Barlow, saying that agents were there to make sure they hadn’t missed anything during the first search. He addressed her as "ma'am" and politely asked her to discuss the events away from the camera, which she declined.
She peppered Lee with more questions. And she tried to point out that, on one hand, the FBI is now telling people there is no longer a “public threat” because of the explosives, but on the other hand, the agency hasn’t yet released the results of tests conducted on the “green fuzz.”
The FBI has not disclosed what brought agents to Chamberlain’s home in the first place on Saturday.
The 42-year-old was arrested after a three-day manhunt. He was taken into custody Monday evening at Crissy Field.
Chamberlain was charged in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, where he 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 did not enter a plea. On Wednesday, a federal magistrate judge ordered a mental health evaluation of him. Chamberlain’s attorney, Jodi Linker, declined comment to the Associated Press.
Chamberlain is scheduled back in court on Friday to argue for a pre-trial release on his bail.
Barlow told NBC Bay Area she has been very frustrated with the FBI investigation, as it has affected her ability to get to work. She is not connected to the case, other than that she works nearby in Nob Hill.
“I’ve been under the gun with work. I’ve got an appeal going on. And Saturday couldn’t even get in,” she said. “I didn’t get in until noon on Sunday."
She left feeling dissatisfied: "There are many unanswered questions here."