Ex-TSA screener at LAX Nna Alpha Onuoha charged with making threats
Onuoha allegedly cited 9/11 anniversary
Last Updated: 91 days ago
LOS ANGELES - A former Transportation Security Administration screener who was once suspended from his job for allegedly criticizing a 15-year-old girl's wardrobe was charged Wednesday with two federal counts of making threats to terminals at Los Angeles International Airport.
Nna Alpha Onuoha, 29, of Inglewood, was arrested just before midnight Tuesday by members of the Los Angeles Joint Terrorism Task Force with assistance from the Riverside Police Department, according to Los Angeles-based FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller.
He made a brief appearance in federal court in downtown Los Angeles Wednesday afternoon. He was ordered to remain in custody, pending a bond hearing set for Monday. An arraignment was tentatively set for Oct. 1.
Onuoha on Tuesday resigned from the TSA, which had employed him since 2006, Eimiller said. According to a federal court affidavit prepared by FBI Special Agent David Gates, Onuoha had been suspended for one week in July for allegedly telling a 15-year-old girl that she should "cover up."
The run-in with the teen made headlines when her father publicized it on his blog.
After he resigned Tuesday, Onuoha allegedly left a package at the TSA's LAX headquarters addressed to an agency employee, Eimiller said.
A Los Angeles Police Department 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," she said. According to the federal court affidavit, the document was titled "The End of America, The End of satan, we were not defeated."
Later in the day Tuesday, "a male believed to be Onuoha telephonically contacted the TSA, instructing an employee to begin evacuating certain terminals at the airport. The caller told the employee that he would 'be watching' to see if TSA was evacuating the terminals as he instructed."
Another call was received by the TSA, again believed to have been from Onuoha, saying that specific LAX terminals should be evacuated, she said.
Onuoha also allegedly called Los Angeles Airport Police, advising them to evacuate the airport, beginning with terminals 2, 3 and 6, according to the federal court affidavit.
"The terminals in question were cleared by law enforcement personnel and no threat to the airport was found," Eimiller said.
Members of the JTTF then went to Onuoha's apartment, which they found empty except for a note taped inside a closet. According to the court affidavit, the note had a handwritten message that read, "09/11/2013 THERE WILL BE FIRE! FEAR! FEAR! FEAR!"
Onuoha was arrested just before midnight while sitting in a van that was parked at the Harvest Church, at Adams Street and Arlington Avenue, according to Riverside police Lt. Guy Toussaint. The parking lot is near Riverside Airport. A bomb squad searched the van and the parking lot, but the area was determined to be safe, Toussaint said.
According to the court affidavit filed by Gates, Onuoha waived his Miranda rights, and told investigators the message taped to his closet "meant that he intended to start preaching in the streets on September 11, 2013."
"Onuoha further told me that he did not intend for the statements in the above-described calls to be threats, and that he had no intent to engage in any violent conduct," Gates wrote.
The confrontation with the 15-year-old girl that led to his suspension was highlighted on June 16 by blogger Mark Frauenfelder, who wrote on his BoingBoing website that his daughter had been "humiliated and shamed" by a TSA agent at LAX.
Frauenfelder wrote on his blog that his daughter was traveling with a high school tour group when the TSA officer glared at her and told her "You're only 15. Cover yourself!" Frauenfelder included a photo of the outfit his daughter was wearing.
"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," the blogger wrote. "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."
Onuoha lived at an apartment complex for formerly homeless veterans. Police briefly evacuated the building after a package apparently sent by the suspect to a counselor at the complex was deemed suspicious. It was eventually determined not to be a threat.
At about 4 p.m., the TSA office on Century Boulevard near LAX was evacuated after a package was received, apparently from Onuoha. That evacuation lasted about an hour before the package examined and cleared.
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