TYSONS, Va. (WUSA9) -- Officials say that for the second time in a week someone set off a bottle bomb at a movie theater complex in Fairfax County, leading to the evacuation of the theater but no injuries.
Fairfax County fire officials say the latest incident happened around 2 a.m. Sunday at the AMC Tysons Corner 16 movie theater. The device exploded near theater number one toward the end of a showing of the new X-Men movie. Over 300 people were evacuated from the theater. Two juveniles were exposed to the liquid inside the bottle but were not hurt.
For the third time in May, police were called to an AMC movie theater for a bottle bomb explosion. Before this latest incident, a bottle bomb went off inside the AMC Magic Johnson Theater in Largo, Maryland. Early last Sunday morning, two bottle bombs exploded inside the Tysons theater during a showing of Godzilla.
Each time, a similar M.O. "Right at the end, someone took a device, threw it down in front of the auditorium, and it detonated," says Mike Reilly with the Fairfax County Fire Marshal's office.
During the most recent explosion in Tysons, however, the liquid inside the device splashed two teenagers. "The liquid was white, and it didn't feel anything, but it was kind of itchy at first," says Phillip Tran, who was one of the teenagers who got splashed. He and his friend were in the back of the theater when it happened. "I just noticed a Gatorade bottle coming out of no where, and then hit the floor and then, 'boom!' The stuff got on my arms, stuff went on my friends," remembers Train.
Police say the liquid might have been some sort of acid. "Acid is very dangerous," says Reilly. "If someone comes in contact with this material, with your skin, it can create a very severe chemical burn, if it comes in contact with your eyes it can cause blindness."
A statement was released from AMC Theaters:
These actions, which cause panic among large groups of people, are unacceptable, and we will press charges to the fullest extent without hesitation. We are working closely with law enforcement at the local and federal level, and we have provided our surveillance system footage to law enforcement to assist in developing any possible leads or persons of interest. We remain vigilant in preventing further incidents, and have reviewed with local AMCs about what steps to take to help ensure the safety of everyone at the theatre. We have also briefed all theatre operators in the area.
AMC will reach out to the local crime solvers agency as soon as possible to set up a $25,000 reward to anyone who provides information that directly leads to the capture of those responsible.
Investigators agree, these seemingly harmless pranks are anything but. "What possible could be their intent but to cause fear, anger, anxiety and maybe injury," says Reilly.
Investigators say the same person could be behind all three, or, it could be a copycat situation. Either way, they say those responsible will face felony charges.
In the meantime, extra security will be on hand at AMC Theaters. Police also ask for the public's help. If anyone sees anything out of the ordinary, give them a call.