Bottle bombs explode in Tysons movie theater

TYSONS CORNER, Va. (WUSA9) -- Thousands of people were sent rushing from the Tysons Corner AMC Theaters Saturday night during the midnight showing of Godzilla, after police say someone set off an improvised explosive device in the theater.

"It was at a very pivotal part in the movie where a bomb could have gone off in the show, the screen goes off and then bang," remembers Matt Cahill, who was in one of the theaters.

A few theaters away, Ryan Krabill heard a similar noise. "All of a sudden it was a loud pop right over what I thought was my right shoulder," he says.

At first, unsure of what was actually happening, most people stayed put, until it was clear this was not part of the plot.

"That's when everyone said, this isn't normal, freaked out and headed to the exits," remembers Cahill.

Police and firefighters were already rushing into the AMC theaters. "Then when the heavily-armed police officers ran into the building, that's when people really decided they were out," says Krabill.

While most people were thinking the worst; minds rushing to the Colorado movie theater shooting,

Cahill spotted the likely culprit: a two-liter bottle. "There was a large amount of liquid on the ground, at the time I didn't know what it was but as soon as I got outside I got a strong odor of vinegar on my shoes," says Cahill.

About 2,000 people rushed out of all 16 theaters, but no gunman was found. "Police then started searching for different devices, the explosive ordinance division was called in," says Mike Riley with the Fairfax County Fire Marshal's office.

These IEDs are typically made using a bottle of some sort and are filled with chemicals and metal, and when they are detonated, it can be violent, sending chemicals and metal into the air.

"I can't believe someone thought that would be a good idea or a prank, someone needs to do something better with their time," says Cahill.

Although no one was hurt, police say this is not a harmless prank.

"You have this explosive device in which people thought was gunfire, infighting fear, quite honestly I interpret that as an act of terrorism," says Riley.

This is the second bottle bomb at a Virginia movie theater recently. On April 5, someone threw a bottle bomb at the Hoffman theaters in Alexandria. Police have not said the two incidents are related.

Police are looking at surveillance video. Anyone who saw something suspicious is asked to call police.

If you were one of the people evacuated, you can use your ticket stub from Saturday night at any AMC theater for another showing.


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