An elaborate prank or something more sinister? Reward offered in case of Cheesecake Factory explosion

The FBI is offering a $20,000 reward for information about a man who is suspected of detonating a homemade explosive device in a crowded Pasadena Cheesecake Factory last month, authorities announced Friday.

The device created heavy smoke when it went off at the Cheesecake Factory on West Colorado Boulevard just after 6 p.m. on Feb. 2, but no injuries were reported. Authorities said the man wore black clothes and a beanie when he entered the restaurant.

There is no evidence suggesting the incident was a terrorist attack or that the device was meant to harm people, said Deirdre Fike, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office. Investigators do not know a motive behind the incident, or whether the man acted alone, she said.

Pasadena police and the FBI on Friday released a video that showed the man entering a Ralphs grocery store about a half mile down the street, after the incident. He was wearing a white shirt and appeared to be holding a bundle of dark clothing that he threw in a trash can, authorities said.


Police were not able to recover the clothing from the trash can, Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez said at a news conference Friday.

Authorities said they have additional video showing the man running south on Fair Oaks Avenue after throwing the device into the restaurant.

The suspect is described as having “a dark, full beard with a mustache,” the FBI said in a statement.

“He walks with an unusual gait — it appears his feet turn inward when he walks,” the statement said.


Authorities are offering the $20,000 reward to “make the amount worthy of the public interest,” Sanchez said. “We want to talk to the person of interest that was shown in the video.”

“We have to take every investigation seriously,” Sanchez said. “This could run the gamut from an elaborate prank … to something much more sinister.”

Anyone with information can call the Pasadena police at (626) 744-4241 or the FBI at (800) 225-5324.

Hailey Branson-Potts contributed to this report.


Reach Sonali Kohli at or on Twitter @Sonali_Kohli.


11:50 a.m.: This article was updated with new details from a morning press conference.

This article was originally published at 11:45 a.m.