A late-arriving passenger who was denied permission Saturday night to board a JetBlue airliner leaving Long Beach Airport later called and falsely claimed there was a bomb aboard, authorities alleged Sunday.
The passenger, identified as Yechezkel Wells, 21, of Miami Beach was detained at the airport about 10 minutes after the bomb threat, FBI spokesman Kenneth E. Smith said.
The flight was delayed for 50 minutes after its scheduled departure time to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., while authorities used bomb-sniffing dogs to check whether an explosive was on board.
Authorities took Wells, a college student, into custody after interviewing him and three friends. All four were planning to return to Florida after attending a wedding in the Los Angeles area.
Wells admitted during his interview with authorities that there was no bomb, Smith said.
Wells, who was being held Sunday at the federal Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles, faces a charge of providing false information and making threats that could bring a prison term of up to five years, Smith said.
Wells is scheduled to appear today in federal court in Los Angeles.
His three friends were released after being questioned.
Authorities said the telephoned threat was made about 9:10 p.m., just as Flight 243 was supposed to depart and about 10 minutes after Wells arrived at the airport departure gate.
Smith said it wasn't clear whether Wells was trying to delay the flight so he could get a chance to board or if it was simply a way to vent anger about being kept off.
"I just know he was upset," Smith said.
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The device, which contained no explosives, was safely detonated by bomb squad experts before the airport was re-opened to passengers about 10:30 a.m.
A passenger found a note scrawled on two tray tables that a bomb was on board.
A Florida college student pleaded guilty to calling in a phony bomb threat to the Long Beach Airport after he arrived too late to board his plane.
Long Beach Airport was briefly shut down Monday after a man who was later arrested on a drug charge ran away from a security screening.