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Teen Held Over Fake Bomb Threat at LAX

Terminal was evacuated and closed on June 27, the day President Bush landed at the airport.

August 16, 2003|Andrew Blankstein | Times Staff Writer

A 16-year-old Los Angeles boy has been arrested on suspicion of making a telephone bomb threat that led to the evacuation and closing of the Tom Bradley Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport on June 27, the same day President Bush flew into the airport for a Southern California visit, an LAPD official said Friday.

John Miller, head of the LAPD counterterrorism bureau, said that detectives, working with the FBI and a cell phone service provider, had linked the threat calls to emergency dispatchers to a cell phone that once belonged to the boy's mother.

LAPD detectives tracked the boy to Nebraska, where he was visiting his father. The suspect is alleged to have told LAPD detectives that he had been bored and had wanted to see if his joke would appear on the television news.

"This was no joke," Miller said. "People's schedules were turned upside down, the airlines lost money, public confidence was shaken and valuable police resources, including two bomb squads, were diverted while we had the protection detail in town for the president."

LAPD investigators alleged that the teenager also was responsible for several fake bomb calls between June 25 and June 28, including one involving a Mid-City apartment building, one at Los Angeles City Hall and two at the Bradley terminal at LAX.

Authorities declined to release the boy's name, because he is a juvenile. The Los Angeles County district attorney's office has not yet filed charges, said spokeswoman Jane Robison. The teenager will next appear in court Sept. 11.

The biggest disruption came June 27, a Friday, after the unrelated discovery of a fake bomb device in a men's restroom in Terminal 7.

While that investigation was under way, the boy allegedly called a California Highway Patrol emergency dispatcher and said there was a pipe bomb at the Bradley terminal, adding: "It will be activated by remote control."

The caller also told the dispatcher, "The other two bombs are decoys."

No explosives were found in the terminal in a four-hour search. But more than a thousand air travelers were displaced and about 30 international flights were delayed, some for almost six hours, authorities said.

The boy made the calls on a phone on which his mother had discontinued service in 1998.

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