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Suspect saw Los Angeles airport dry ice explosions as a joke, police say

By Michael Martinez and Paul Vercammen, CNN
updated 2:07 PM EDT, Wed October 16, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Police interview co-workers and arrest baggage handler Dicarlo Bennett, 28
  • NEW: He was "playing around" when he allegedly detonated a dry ice bomb, police say
  • NEW: "He thought it was funny," police say, and "had no intent to attack innocent victims"
  • NEW: He works with Servisair, officials say; deputy police chief says he's jailed on $1 million bail

Los Angeles (CNN) -- The man arrested in the dry ice explosions at Los Angeles International Airport is a baggage handler who thought the simple bombs were "a game" and "a funny kind of joke," police said Wednesday.

The explosions didn't cause any injuries, but one did cause a temporary shutdown of a terminal. Both explosions raise questions, however, about the airport's vulnerability and security, authorities say.

"This guy was playing around. It was kind of a game to him. He thought it was funny. He had no intent to attack innocent victims. There was no political motive or agenda," Los Angeles police Deputy Chief Michael Downing said.

"But I think he was surprised because now he is in jail on a million dollars bail. But this is serious. And when you place a destructive device near an airplane, it bumps up the seriousness," Downing added.

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"There was nothing to worry about in terms of safety at LAX. This was not a criminal enterprise. He thought it was a funny kind of joke. But we take it seriously. He was surprised when he got arrested," Downing said. "I think he was kind of proud, thought it was funny."

The arrest comes on the heels of two incidents at the airport on Sunday and Monday. The suspect, identified as Dicarlo Bennett, 28, was charged in the Sunday incident, according to a Los Angeles Police Department statement.

He was arrested after police interviewed his co-workers, Downing said.

LAX dry ice explosions 'an internal job, maybe a labor dispute or prank'

Though he was arrested in connection with both incidents, charges have been filed for only one.

"We want to reassure the traveling public, visitors and employees that LAX is safe and secure," Los Angeles Airport Police Chief Patrick Gannon said.

The suspect is being held in lieu of $1 million bail and faces a charge of possession of an explosive or destructive device near an aircraft.

Bennett is an employee of Servisair, a leading global provider of aviation ground services, the company said.

"We are aware of the arrest of Dicarlo Bennett as a suspect in the recent incidents at LAX," the company said in a prepared statement. "We're cooperating with authorities and will continue to monitor the situation closely. It is important at this early stage to allow law enforcement to continue their investigation, and we do not have any further comment at this time."

The company provides aviation ground services at 118 locations worldwide, including 31 locations in the United States.

An employee badge is required to get access to where the dry ice explosions occurred, said Nancy Suey Castles, an airport spokeswoman.

On Sunday, dry ice in a plastic bottle exploded in an employee restroom, causing a brief shutdown of Terminal 2, the FBI said. No injuries were reported, and the terminal resumed operations after a brief evacuation.

The other incident occurred about 8:30 p.m. Monday at the Tom Bradley International Terminal, airport police said,

Three plastic bottles containing dry ice were found, but only one had exploded, police said.

CNN affiliate KCAL said the blast took place in an employee restroom, inaccessible to nonemployees. Nobody was injured in that incident.

Dry ice, which is carbon dioxide in solid form, is used as a refrigerant for meats and ice cream, especially when shipped in a box. When dry ice becomes warm, it transforms into vapor.

CNN's Dave Alsup contributed from Atlanta.

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