Witnesses described what played out in the Glen Park branch library Tuesday like a scene from a television police show as undercover FBI agents quietly surrounded 29-year-old Ross Ulbricht, confiscated his laptop and placed him in handcuffs.
First, a woman approached Ulbricht as he sat at a large table and screamed, “I’m so sick of you,” then lunged in to seize his computer.
“He started to get a little bit agitated. He gets up, and I’m guessing he’s going to go ahead and try and grab his own laptop back,” said a witness who asked not to be identified publicly.
Then the other patrons seated at the table got up to surround and corner him against a wall.
“They politely ask him to turn around, put his hands behind his back. One of them breaks out cuffs and they cuff him,” the witness continued.
The unusual arrest became surreal as the people surrounding Ulbricht shed their outer layers to reveal blue FBI vests.
Ulbricht is due in court Friday to face charges of narcotics trafficking, computer hacking and money laundering for operating a website called Silk Road that allowed users to anonymously browse ads for drugs and other illegal services that could be paid for with the Internet currency Bitcoin.
The undercover agent who provoked the incident took a look at all of the witnesses and said, “Surprise,” as the agents left with their suspect in custody.
Not even the librarian knew what was going on as the agents headed for the exit.