Oct. 16--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 said there was no video footage of Bennett, but said there was "plenty" of evidence linking Bennett to the dry ice bombs. Sources said information from other airport workers was among the evidence that led investigators to Bennett, who was thought to have obtained the dry ice from an aircraft.
Bennett "was an employee of Servisair at the time of the incident," the company confirmed Wednesday. A Facebook account registered in Bennett's name said he was a former ramp supervisor for the company.
In a statement, Servisair declined to comment further, but said the company was "cooperating with authorities and will continue to monitor the situation closely."
LAX authorities referred questions about the details of Bennett's arrest to the LAPD, which headed the investigation. In a statement, airport Police Chief Patrick Gannon thanked the law enforcement agencies involved.
"Once again we want to reassure the traveling public, visitors and employees that LAX is safe and secure," Gannon said.
Authorities said three dry ice bombs were found Sunday and Monday in areas off-limits to the public, leading LAPD investigators and other officials to concentrate on airport workers -- particularly those with access to the tarmac.
The first device -- a 20-ounce plastic bottle filled with dry ice -- was discovered about 7 p.m. Sunday after it exploded in an employee-only restroom at Terminal 2, authorities said. No injuries were reported, but operations in the terminal were suspended and some flights delayed as the LAPD bomb squad cleared the scene.
On Monday, the LAPD was again notified after an airport employee found a plastic bottle that was fizzing -- but had not exploded -- on the tarmac outside the Tom Bradley International Terminal, officials said.
The employee told police he had cleaned up a similar object Sunday that had apparently exploded in the same area, Downing said. The employee said it wasn't until he spotted the bottle Monday that he realized what it was.
A fourth object initially thought to be another bomb was found on the tarmac Monday, but it was later determined to be trash, police said. LAPD officials initially offered conflicting reports about the number of devices found.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said the devices were "more of a noise device than a device that causes damage," but said Tuesday officials were still concerned. He said police would push to have anyone arrested "vigorously" prosecuted.
"Whether you think this is a harmless prank or a way to disrupt operations at the airport, it won't matter," Beck said. "You will go to jail."
Copyright 2013 - Los Angeles Times
Lawyer: 'He removed the dry ice from a plane to protect an animal, a dog that was being loaded. He and others were concerned about the fumes from the dry ice killing the dog.'