Police say a Los Angeles airport ground service employee who was arrested after several dry ice bombs were found at the airport Sunday and Monday left the devices as a prank.
From the LA Times:
The ground service employee arrested in connection with a string of dry ice bombs found at Los Angeles International Airport was a prankster who had no deep motive for his alleged acts, an LAPD official said.
But Dicarlo Bennett, 28, is still expected to face serious charges because the devices were found in close proximity to an aircraft, said Los Angeles police Deputy Chief Michael Downing, who oversees the department’s counterterrorism and special operations bureau.
“He was a prankster,” Downing said. “He thought it was funny. There is no terrorism here. This is one man involved who made very poor choices. There is nothing funny about what he did.”
Bennett, a 28-year-old man who worked for LAX ground-service provider Servisair, was arrested in Paramount on Tuesday on suspicion of possessing and exploding a “destructive device near an aircraft,” the LAPD said. He was held on $1-million bail.
The proximity of the dry ice bombs to the aircraft will likely rachet up the charges Bennett could face, Downing said.
Downing also said that while the suspect thought it was funny, he “had no intent to attack innocent victims. There was no political motive or agenda,” according to CNN, adding, “But I think he was surprised because now he is in jail on a million dollars bail. But this is serious. And when you place a destructive device near an airplane, it bumps up the seriousness.”
A 20-ounce plastic bottle filled with dry ice exploded in an LAX airport terminal employee restroom Sunday. Operations were temporarily suspended as the LAPD bomb squad investigated the scene. Another device was found by an airport employee the following day on a tarmac; the device was fizzing but had not yet exploded. That employee told police he’d earlier cleaned up a similar device that had exploded in the same area, according to the LA Times.
An explosives expert explained that such devices aren’t technically a “bomb,” according to the Times.
Paul Worsey, an explosives expert and professor at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, said it was unlikely a dry-ice device would do much damage.
“They’re really not a bomb, just a noise generator,” Worsey said. “It wouldn’t really be effective.”
But police said they weren’t taking any chances. An exploding dry-ice bomb could potentially cause “significant injury” to people nearby, Chow said.
But an official with the LAPD’s counterterrorism bureau said the devices could exert a good deal of force, and officials had been concerned about the location of one of the devices that were found, given its proximity to aircraft.
“Even though they’re soda bottles, the pressure that’s created inside of them is extreme,” Cmdr. Blake Chow of the Los Angeles Police Department’s counterterrorism bureau said Tuesday.
“It actually can blow up with as much force as a pipe bomb, so that’s why we take these very seriously,” he said.
Servisair confirmed that Bennett “was an employee of [the company] at the time of the incident,” according to the LA Times. The company offered no further information according to the Times, other than it is cooperating with authorities.