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LAX dry ice bombs: Similar device killed man in 1992

October 16, 2013|By Richard Winton

Although the dry ice bombs found this week at Los Angeles International Airport did not injure anyone, a similar device that exploded at a Los Angeles liquor store in 1992 was deadly.

LAPD bomb squad Det. Paul Robi said the liquor store operator was cleaning inside when he picked up a glass bottle and it exploded, the fragments “slitting his throat.”

“He bled to death,” Robi said Wednesday.

The bottle filled with dry ice had been placed in the store by a juvenile who was later convicted and received four years in California Youth Authority.

In the LAX incidents, a 28-year-old ground service worker who was arrested told police he did it as a prank out of curiousity because “he thought it was funny.”

Dicarlo Bennett will be charged with two felony counts of suspicion of possessing a destructive device, Los Angeles police said.

One device exploded near passenger airliners at Tom Bradley International Terminal and another in a bathroom at Terminal 2. A third dry ice bomb was found Monday fizzling near the Bradley terminal.

In the wake of the airport incidents, the LAX police chief said vendors who bring dry ice to the airport will have to remove it when they are finished instead of throwing it away on the premises.

Bennett, who worked for LAX ground service provider Servisair, was arrested Tuesday in Paramount on suspicion of possessing and exploding a “destructive device near an aircraft,” police said..

“He was a prankster,” said LAPD Deputy Chief Michael Downing. “He thought it was funny.” Although, he added, “there is nothing funny about what he did. This is a serious pipebomb filled with shrapnel; it is a destructive device.”

Downing said investigators found no motive other than Bennett did it for his own amusement.

“There is no terrorism here,” Downing said. “There is one man involved here who made some very poor choices.”

Police said no one saw Bennettt on surveillance cameras, but there was “plenty” of evidence linking him to the dry ice bombs. Bennett was identified after LAPD criminal conspiracy detectives interviewed several other airport workers, sources said.

Authorities said three dry ice bombs were found Sunday and Monday in areas that are off-limits to the public, leading LAPD investigators and other officials to concentrate on airport workers — particularly those with access to the tarmac.

The first device — a 20-ounce plastic bottle filled with dry ice — was discovered about 6:40 p.m. Sunday after it exploded in an employee-only restroom at Terminal 2, authorities said.

No injuries were reported, but operations in the terminal were suspended and some flights delayed as the LAPD bomb squad cleared the scene.

The others were reported Monday night, but investigators believe Bennett allegedly placed them there Sunday.

Investigators believe Bennett obtained the dry ice from an airliner, where it is typically used by catering services.

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richard.winton@latimes.com

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