Judge denies bail in LA airport weapons case
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A federal magistrate denied bail Friday to a man authorities say was arrested with a cache of weapons in his checked luggage at Los Angeles International Airport.
The ruling came after prosecutors said they discovered evidence on the computer of Yongda Huang Harris indicating he has a strong interest in sexual violence against girls.
Harris is currently charged with one count of transporting hazardous materials, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. His attorney asked Friday that he be released on bail.
U.S. Magistrate Paul Abrams denied the request after hearing from prosecutors that Harris appears to have an interest in sexual violence and that investigators also found a document on his computer called “Man Trapping” that explains how to hunt and trap human beings.
Prosecutors also told Abrams they believe Harris is a flight risk and a danger to society.
Harris, 28, was arrested a week ago during a stopover in Los Angeles on his trip from Japan to Boston. He was wearing a bulletproof vest under a trench coat and also wore flame-retardant pants and knee pads.
A search of his checked luggage uncovered numerous suspicious items, including a smoke grenade, knives, body bags, hatchet, collapsible baton, biohazard suit, gas mask, billy clubs, handcuffs, leg irons and a device to repel dogs, authorities said.
A motive remained unclear, partly because Harris hasn’t cooperated with authorities.
Chris Williams, a spokesman for Harris’ attorney Steven Seiden, said Harris was following his attorney’s advice to exercise his right to remain silent.
Harris is a U.S. citizen whose permanent residence is in Boston, though he recently started living and working in Japan, officials said.
He did get off his flight in South Korea before he headed to Los Angeles. South Korean security officials screened Harris and his carry-on luggage, but the smoke grenade made it onto the plane in his checked luggage, according to a U.S. Homeland Security official briefed on the investigation.
The official was not authorized to discuss the case publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The smoke grenade was X-rayed by police bomb squad officers in Los Angeles, who said the device fell into a category that is prohibited on board passenger aircraft. It is banned from planes under the United Nations’ explosives shipping rules.
Most of the items wouldn’t violate Transportation Security Administration guidelines for what is permissible in checked luggage, and the protective vest and pants are not listed among items prohibited on flights.
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