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Former TSA Screener Arrested After Making Threats Against LAX [UPDATED]
A former Transportation Security Administration screener who allegedly made threats to Los Angeles International Airport was arrested last night in Riverside. Officials say he left a message citing the 9/11 anniversary.
Nna Alpha Onuoha, 29, of Inglewood was arrested just before midnight on Tuesday, Los Angeles-based FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said in an email statement.
Onuoha, who is a naturalized citizen from Nigeria, according to Fox 11, resigned on Tuesday, following a recent suspension; he had worked at LAX since 2006. According to Fox, he was suspended after telling a female passenger he didn't approve of the way she was dressed.
He allegedly left a suspicious package at the TSA's LAX headquarters yesterday. The bomb squad determined the package was harmless, but it did contain an eight-page letter in which Onuoha wrote about the incident that led to his suspension and expressed "his disdain for the United States."
Later that day, a man believed to Onuoha called the TSA twice, warning that certain terminals should be evacuated. The terminals were cleared and no threat was found.
At Onuoha's empty apartment in Inglewood, officials found a note taped inside a closet "containing an unspecified threat citing the 9/11 anniversary,'' according to Eimiller. KTLA reports that he is a veteran of the U.S. military and lived at a complex for military veterans.
He was found and arrested in Riverside at the Harvest Church, 6115 Arlington Avenue, by local police. The FBI and police searched Onuoha's van in the church parking lot and discovered several suspicious packages, including one addressed to the church's pastor. The bomb squad used a robot to examine the vehicle.
LAX has increased its security presence in the wake of Onuoha's arrest, CBS 2 reports.
"The safety and security of the traveling public, employees and visitors is our priority and we encourage the traveling public to report all suspicious activity. If you see something, say something. Security is everybody's business," Sgt. Belinda Nettles of the Los Angeles Airport Police told CBS.
UPDATE, 3:28 P.M., A building in Inglewood was evacuated this afternoon after a suspicious package from Onuoha was discovered, although it was deemed to be harmless.
The package arrived today, addressed to a counselor who works at the facility in the 700 block of South Hindry Avenue, the same building where Onuha lived. It's a veteran facility in Inglewood that helps vets who were once homeless get back on their feet, according to ABC 7. The organization helped him got his job with the TSA.
Authorities still don't know why the suspect went to a Riverside church where he was arrested since he is not a member there. None of the packages he had with him at the time of his arrest were dangerous, although a bomb squad was called in. Investigators found he had several religious items, like crosses and bibles, with him, according to ABC.
Onuoha was charged with two federal counts of making threats to terminals at Los Angeles International Airport. If convicted of both counts, he to 15 years in federal prison, plus fines and penalties. He is expected to make his initial Los Angeles court appearance sometime this afternoon, according to CNS.
Authorities released more details of the threatening note found in his otherwise empty apartment: CNS reports that the handwritten, all-caps message warned, "9/11/13. THERE WILL BE FIRE! FEAR! FEAR! FEAR!''
UPDATE, 11:27 A.M. The L.A. Times is reporting that Onuoha was previously involved in a high-profile incident in June. He is the same agent who criticized the 15-year-old daughter of Mark Frauenfelder, founder of the blog Boing Boing.
The incident was widely reported because Frauenfelder wrote about it on his site, saying the agent "humiliated and shamed my 15-year-old daughter." He said he wasn't with his daughter when the agent told her, "You're only 15, COVER YOURSELF!" Frauenfelder included a photo of his daughter's outfit, but added, "It doesn't matter what she was wearing, though, because it's none of his business to tell girls what they should or should not wear. His creepy thoughts are his own problem, and he shouldn't use his position of authority as an excuse to humiliate a girl and blame her for his sick attitude."
He complained to the TSA, who apologized and put Onuoha on suspension.
Authorities say that Ohnuoha had a personal website where he published letters referring to the suspension, as well as 9/11 and "the end of the world." He threatened to deliver a "real message" today, the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, according to the Times. "Do not expect another 9/11,” the letter states. “What will unfold on this day and on the days ahead will be greater than 9/11.”