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Flights in Phoenix, Orange County stopped after threats are received

Two Southwest Airlines planes are taken to isolated airport areas and searched. Both are cleared, and the FBI is investigating.

May 09, 2012|By Andrew Blankstein and Robert J. Lopez, Los Angeles Times
  • Two Southwest Airlines flights with ties to Orange County and Phoenix were stopped Tuesday night after threats were made to the planes.
Two Southwest Airlines flights with ties to Orange County and Phoenix were… (Elise Amendola, Associated…)

Two Southwest Airlines flights with ties to Orange County and Phoenix were stopped Tuesday night after threats were made to the planes.

The first incident began about 7:30 p.m. after Flight 1184 arrived at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix from John Wayne Airport, an FBI spokesman told The Times.

The plane was taken to an isolated area of the airport after authorities received an unspecified threat, said Special Agent Manuel Johnson of the FBI's Phoenix division.

He said the plane was searched, passengers were screened again and the flight was cleared. It was headed to Tulsa, Okla.

About an hour later, Southwest Flight 811 at John Wayne Airport was taken to an isolation area after authorities received a bomb threat, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Lt. Joe Balicki told The Times the "phone threat was received by an outside agency."

The plane "was preparing to take off," he said. The flight was bound for Phoenix.

Bomb squad members searched the plane but found no explosive device.

The FBI is probing both incidents. "As to whether the two were related, clearly that's under investigation," FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller in Los Angeles said.

Southwest spokeswoman Ashley Dillon said that no passengers were injured and that the flight leaving Orange County was cleared for takeoff. However, it was ultimately canceled because of a noise curfew at the airport, she said.

andrew.blankstein@latimes.com

robert.lopez@latimes.com

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