"Bottle bombs" blast empties Virginia theater; no injuries

Mon May 19, 2014 3:17pm EDT

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May 19 (Reuters) - Two homemade "bottle bombs" filled with acid and metal shards exploded in a Virginia movie theater over the weekend, sending more than 2,000 frightened audience members scrambling for the exits, authorities said on Monday.

Witnesses told the Fairfax County Police Department the explosion sounded like gunshots and occurred around 12:15 a.m. (0415) on Sunday during a midnight showing of the movie "Godzilla."

Initial 911 calls reported a shooter was at AMC Theater at Tysons Corner Center in McLean, Virginia, outside of Washington.

Police said the blast was heard throughout the 16-theater complex and caused panic and confusion. More than 2,000 people were evacuated and no one was injured.

Fire officials believe the bombs were built using 2-liter plastic soda bottles filled with acid and metal shards, Deputy Chief Mike Reilly of Fairfax County Fire and Rescue told Washington's WRC-TV.

AMC said in a statement it was working closely with police. "We will seek to ensure those found responsible are prosecuted to the full extent of the law," it said.

On April 5, a bottle bomb exploded outside a movie theater in Alexandria, Virginia. There were no injuries.

Fire Department spokesman Dan Schmidt said authorities did not know if the two incidents were related. (Reporting by John Clarke; Editing by Ian Simpson, Scott Malone and Paul Simao)

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