Minor blasts weren’t acts of terrorism, officials say
LOS ANGELES – A baggage handler arrested after dry ice bombs exploded at Los Angeles International Airport planted the three devices out of personal curiosity, police said Wednesday.
The motive was disclosed a day after the arrest of Dicarlo Bennett, a 28-year-old employee for the aviation ground services company Servisair.
“I think we can safely say he is not a terrorist or an organized crime boss. He did this for his own amusement,” said Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Michael Downing, who heads the department’s counter-terrorism and special operations bureau. “There is one man involved here who made some very poor choices.”
No one was hurt Sunday when a plastic bottle packed with dry ice exploded in an employee bathroom and another blew up on the airport’s tarmac. An employee found a third plastic bottle expanding Monday night on the tarmac near where the other exploded, said LAPD Capt. Steve Sambar, who heads major crimes division.
The bombs were made by putting dry ice in 20-ounce plastic bottles. When the bottle is sealed, pressure builds up as the solid carbon dioxide turns into gas, causing the bottle to burst.
Los Angeles Airport Police Chief Patrick Gannon said Bennett used dry ice that had been discarded into a container on the airfield after it was used to maintain the freshness of food being loaded onto a plane. The airport will now require employees to return dry ice to the warehouse and not leave it out on the tarmac.
Airport officials plan to meet with law enforcement authorities to examine other potential security enhancements at one of the nation’s busiest airports.
Bennett passed the federal background checks necessary to receive a security badge for access to restricted areas, Gannon said. He was one of nearly 50,000 badged employees working at the three airports owned by the city of Los Angeles.
Bennett was arrested Tuesday and booked on suspicion of possession of a destructive device near an aircraft. He was being held on $1 million bail.