Updated at the bottom with Onuoha hit with federal charges. He's also been fingered as a TSA agent who allegedly told a teenager to cover herself in a well-publicized incident in June. First posted at 12:59 a.m.
A former TSA screener accused of making threats and ordering evacuations at LAX on the eve of the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks was arrested shortly before midnight, the FBI said this morning.
Members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested 29-year-old Alpha Onuoha in Riverside after he allegedly left a package at LAX Tuesday afternoon before phoning in instructions that specific LAX terminals should be evacuated, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said:
The terminals in question were “cleared” (deemed safe) by law enforcement, she said. An unspecified threat to LAX was made, authorities alleged, and an 8-page letter was found inside that package.
Onouha appeared to be a disgruntled ex-employee, at least according to the FBI. He resigned Tuesday after he was suspended from the job for reasons unknown, Eimiller said. He had been with the agency since 2006.
The 8-page letter, Eimiller said, …
… expressed his thoughts about the incident that led to his suspension and disdain for the United States, among other opinions.
She added …
… TTF [Terrorism Task Force] members responding to Onuoha's residence today found his apartment empty, with the exception of a note taped inside a closet containing an unspecified threat citing the 9/11/13 anniversary.
Riverside police helped FBI task force members taken the suspect down, Eimiller said. The man was being held on suspicion of making threats.
[Update at 4:04 p.m.]: The U.S. Attorney's Office in L.A. says the suspect, whom it ID'd as Nna Alpha Onuoha, has been charged with “making a false threat” — described as a hoax, since his threats didn't bare fruit — and “making threats affecting interstate commerce,” according to spokesman Thom Mrozek.
If convicted he could be sentenced to as many as 15 years, he said. Onuoha was in federal court this afternoon for a detention hearing that was carried over to Monday. Arraignment was scheduled for Oct. 1.
In an interesting twist, the folks at the website Boing Boing say he's the same guy who allegedly shamed the daughter of one its journalists, Mark Frauenfelder, in June.
His account was posted at the site. It says the teen was told by a TSA agent at LAX, “You're only 15, COVER YOURSELF!”
— Mark Frauenfelder (@Frauenfelder) September 11, 2013
The TSA opened and investigation following the incident and Onuoha was suspended because of it, says the Los Angeles Times. He resigned Tuesday as a result of that suspension, authorities said.