Germantown man pleads guilty to leaving suspicious devices at Rep. Evans’ campaign office, rec center

 While initial reports of a bomb proved unfounded, police reported that a substance found outside a Northwest Philadelphia politician's office was still dangerous. (Matthew Grady/for NewsWorks)

While initial reports of a bomb proved unfounded, police reported that a substance found outside a Northwest Philadelphia politician's office was still dangerous. (Matthew Grady/for NewsWorks)

A 20-year-old Germantown man has pleaded guilty to targeting a West Oak Lane recreation center and politician’s office with a caustic chemical device and was sentenced to probation on Tuesday.

Malachi Bryan, of the 100 block of E. Mayland St., entered a guilty plea on four charges stemming from the May 6 incident when police found two suspicious devices placed at the Simons Recreation Center and a state Rep. Dwight Evans campaign office.

The back story

As reported by NewsWorks, police responded to the 7200 block of Limekiln Pike for reports of a device giving off smoke outside of Evans’ campaign office around 4:30 p.m.

Upon arrival, police found a container that appeared to be leaking a green fluid that was smoking.

The PPD’s Bomb Squad was notified, and after processing the scene determined that the device — a plastic water bottle filled with a green liquid inside a plastic bag — was not explosive, but highly caustic.

Shortly thereafter, a second device was found at nearby Simons Recreation Center on Woolston Avenue.

Within minutes of the reports, police had Bryan in custody.

Charged with possession of an instrument of crime, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and related offenses in connection with the case, he was held on $50,000 bail.

Officer Christine O’Brien, a police-department spokeswoman, said investigators believed the liquid to be bathroom cleaner. The plastic-bottle device was designed to enable chemical agents to interact, causing it to expand and burst, giving off smoke in the process.

Day in court

On Tuesday, Bryan entered a guilty plea on the possession of instrument of crime charges and simple assault, according to court records. The remaining charges were withdrawn by prosecutors.

Family Court Judge James Murray Lynn sentenced Bryan to two years of probation on each charge, set to run concurrently. In addition, a stay-away order was issued, and Bryan was ordered to undergo a mental-health evaluation.

Asked for his response to the sentencing on Wednesday, state Rep. Dwight Evans expressed gratitude that no one was hurt in the original incident.

“I hope that the young man will learn a lesson from the situation, and hopefully we can move on from it,” Evans said.

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