Bellingham man accused of making pre-planned bomb threat at theater faces new charges

Listen as 911 dispatchers receive calls about the alleged Regal Cinemas bomb threat

Regal Cinemas in Bellingham was evacuated on Sunday, April, 28, 2019, after an alleged bomb threat. 911 operators received 23 calls for help.
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Regal Cinemas in Bellingham was evacuated on Sunday, April, 28, 2019, after an alleged bomb threat. 911 operators received 23 calls for help.

The Bellingham man accused of making a pre-planned bomb threat at the Regal Cinemas movie theater in late April is facing new charges over the incident.

Ryan Nolan MacFarlane, 27, was originally charged with one count of threat to bomb, a felony. On July 3, MacFarlane was charged and pleaded not guilty to additional charges of felony harassment and disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor, according to Whatcom County Superior Court records.

MacFarlane’s jury trial tentatively has been scheduled for July 29. He was released from Whatcom County Jail June 27 on his personal recognizance while awaiting trial. MacFarlane’s bail was previously set at $25,000, court records show.

On April 28, an afternoon showing of the “Avengers: Endgame” movie was in its final scenes when MacFarlane stood up with a backpack on and began “(prophesying) about God,” according to charging documents. MacFarlane, who was wearing a camouflage jacket, jeans and tactical black boots, allegedly said “this bomb will help you get to the end,” court records state.

An armed bystander, who has not been identified publicly, unholstered his concealed firearm and followed MacFarlane out of the theater. The bystander helped detain MacFarlane until Bellingham police arrived, court records show.

MacFarlane, who is originally from Florida and is known to be transient in Whatcom County, told Bellingham police he had pre-planned the threat. He had attended a showing of the Avengers movie the day before and picked “a pivotal scene that he decided would be the perfect moment to share his message,” court records state.

MacFarlane told police he made no mention of a bomb, records show.

Ryan Nolan MacFarlane, 27, appeared in Whatcom Superior Court on Monday, April 29, 2019, after allegedly making a bomb threat during an "Avengers: Endgame" movie showing at the Regal Cinemas theater on Sunday, April 28, 2019.

MacFarlane’s alleged threat caused approximately 3,000 people to be evacuated from the theater, which temporarily closed due to the incident. Many inside the same theater as MacFarlane said they thought they might die, and fled out the emergency exit into nearby thorn bushes. No one was seriously injured from the threat or the evacuation of the theater complex.

MacFarlane also was arrested in 2010 in St. Augustine, Florida, for intentionally pulling a fire alarm and causing the early-morning evacuation of residents at their condos, according to a story from The Bradenton Herald. The charge was later dropped.

Authorities in Florida also obtained an arrest warrant for MacFarlane for food stamp fraud in 2013, but he was never arrested and the case was closed, The Bradenton Herald reported.

The Bellingham Police Department's Hazardous Devices Unit used a robot to move a backpack that was thought to possibly contain a bomb on Sunday, April 29, 2019 at the Regal Cinemas movie theater in Bellingham, Wash. No explosives were located.

Reporter Denver Pratt joined The Bellingham Herald in 2017 and covers courts and criminal and social justice. She has worked in Montana, Florida and Virginia.