After three days on the run as the focus of a nationwide manhunt, San Francisco political and media consultant Ryan Chamberlain was captured within city limits on Monday evening, the FBI said, hours after an apparent suicide note was posted on social media.
Chamberlain was taken to a police station after being detained near Crissy Field and booked on suspicion of possessing explosives in violation of federal law, said a law enforcement official who asked not to be identified.
The police bomb squad, meanwhile, used a robot mechanism to search Chamberlain’s car. The vehicle was towed out of the parking lot about 9 p.m.
According to the law enforcement official, police had spotted Chamberlain’s white four-door Nissan sedan parked outside the Beach Hut Cafe at 6:22 p.m. A witness there reported seeing police and federal agents detain Chamberlain within view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
“He looked pretty surprised and frantic. He was asking for help,” said Morgan Manos, an Uber driver who recognized Chamberlain from media photos. “He saw me recording (with a phone camera) and asked me for help.”
Manos said Chamberlain was wearing shorts, a sweatshirt and a beanie and looked scared. “They took him down hard,” Manos said.
Earlier Monday, Chamberlain’s 718 Facebook friends were jolted by a posting of an apparent suicide note titled “Goodbye” – a letter he had apparently written Saturday, shortly after federal agents searched his Polk Street home and allegedly found explosives.
Chamberlain said he had used a program, HootSuite, to delay the posting of the note, in which he bade farewell to loved ones and spoke about suffering from depression “for as long as I can recall.”
“So much was broken from this past year-and-a-half, and from moments way back before that,” the three-page letter stated. “I guess it was just insurmountable, and the time’s up.”
Apparently he had some Mommy issues:
The “Goodbye” letter detailed issues with his mother, whom Chamberlain called a “religious addict certain that the Rapture is coming any day now,” as well as a romantic heartbreak and the loss of a job. He mentioned past traumas and disappointments, saying he was denied credit for the biggest success of his career in political consulting: helping Gavin Newsom during his winning 2003 mayoral campaign.
The turn of events startled people like Bob Brigham, 36, who worked with Chamberlain on the Newsom campaign and described him as a close friend.
“He’s one of the top two or three strategic minds in Bay Area politics. It just seems so out of character,” said Brigham, who now runs a consulting firm in Montana.
Since this is San Francisco we’re sure he’ll get a minor fine and a ticker-tape parade in his honor.