A Bowie man has been charged in two “bottle bomb” incidents at movie theaters.
Manuel Joyner-Bell Jr., 21, of Bowie, was arrested on Saturday and charged with the manufacture, possession and detonation of a destructive device in connection with a bottle bomb incident at the AMC Magic Johnson Capital Center 12 in Largo on May 24, Prince George’s fire officials said in a news release.
Phil Dawson, a barber at Drake’s Place II barbershop in the Largo shopping center, said he was working when the bomb went off in the movie theater, but that he didn’t hear about the incident until several days later.
“This is definitely the first [incident like this] here. Especially a bombing,” he said. “It’s a little scary. A lot of people come out here and bring their families out here, so for someone to take the imitative to put together a bomb and try to hurt someone, I think that’s a little childish.”
Dawson said he doesn’t think the bottle bomb incident will affect his business, but said extra security measures should be taken at the Magic Johnson Theatres.
“As long as the movie theater has more security, I think it will be a little safer,” he said. “Make sure everything is intact, rather than let everyone and anyone come in.”
Denise Franklin of Largo said she was planning on watching a movie at the Largo shopping center on June 3, and that the bottle bomb incident didn’t cause any hesitation on her part.
“It just seemed like [the bombings] happened at a certain time of day when the theater was more crowded,” she said. “I don’t really come to the theater other than the matinee. I didn’t think much of it, because things like that always seem to happen when its most crowded.”
Joyner-Bell has also been linked to an explosive that was set off at around 1 a.m. May 4 at Regal Majestic Stadium 20 at 900 Ellsworth Drive in Silver Spring, Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Service spokesman Pete Piringer said.
Montgomery County fire officials charged him Monday afternoon with two counts of manufacturing and possessing a destructive device and two counts of possessing materials to create a destructive device, Piringer said.
Police and fire officials said they are investigating at least four other recent “bottle bomb” incidents in the region to see if they are related, including:
• Cinemark 24 Egyptian at Arundel Mills on March 24
• AMC Hoffman Center 22 in Alexandria, Va. on April 5
• AMC Tysons Corner 16 in Virginia on May 18 and 25.
There were no reports of major injuries in any of the incidents. But law enforcement agencies said at a press conference Monday that the incidents stirred panic among moviegoers.
As of Monday evening, Joyner-Bell was being held in Prince George’s County. His bail was initially set at $50 million, but bail was revoked at a hearing Monday, according to Prince George’s County Fire Department spokesman Mark Brady.
“The state asked for the no bond status, arguing that he was a threat to the community at large and because it was possible he would end up in the custody of another jurisdiction if he bonded out in Prince George’s,” said John Erzen, spokesman for the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s office.