Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck vowed Tuesday that authorities would track down those responsible for a rash of dry-ice bombs at Los Angeles International Airport, saying, "We will catch the people involved."
Beck declined to share many particulars about the investigation but said authorities have not identified "a nexus to terrorism" and instead "think this is probably internally based." He said police would push to have those responsible "vigorously prosecuted."
"Whether you think this is a harmless prank or a way to disrupt operations at the airport, it won't matter," Beck said. "You will go to jail."
Four devices have been found at the airport since Sunday, Cmdr. Blake Chow of the LAPD's counterterrorism bureau told reporters Tuesday. The first detonated about 7 p.m. Sunday in an employee-only restroom in Terminal 2, authorities said.
About 8:20 p.m. Monday, Chow said, airport authorities alerted the LAPD that another device had been found on a tarmac at the Tom Bradley International terminal. An employee found that device, which had already exploded, Chow said.
The LAPD bomb squad was called to the scene and rendered safe two additional devices that had not detonated, Chow said. All three of the devices discovered Monday were found in an area accessible only to employees, he said.
Investigators are examining the devices for fingerprints, DNA and other forensic evidence, Chow said, and are reviewing surveillance cameras to see whether any of them captured footage of the suspect or suspects. Detectives are also interviewing employees and supervisors, he said.
There has been some confusion about how many devices were found -- and how many were detonated. But Chow said they believe the tally of dry-ice bombs is four, two of which went off -- one Sunday and one Monday.
The FBI is assisting in the investigation, and security has been increased at the airport.
"What concerns me the most about this is a huge drain on resources for what may be a sophomoric act," Beck said. "Our bomb squad rolls, I've got my absolute best detectives on this -- which I will continue to have, but that is a limited resource."
The devices have all been plastic, Beck said -- "more of a noise device than a device that causes damage" -- but the chief said officials remain concerned about the dangers of "highly volatile" dry ice. Chow said a dry-ice bomb could potentially "blow up with as much force and as much damage to an individual as a pipe bomb."
"They're not some prank that somebody left behind," Chow said. "So once we identify the suspect, he's going to be in a significant amount of trouble."
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