Police in California have arrested a former Transportation Security Administration employee and accused him of making terrorist threats at an airport just before the anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
Nna Alpha Onuoha, 29, is in police custody after being apprehended just before midnight on Tuesday outside of a church in Riverside, California near Los Angeles.
Onuoha resigned from the TSA earlier Tuesday, Sept. 10, after more than six years of employment as a security screener at Los Angeles International Airport. After walking away from his TSA gig, Onuoha allegedly phoned in threats to LAX and left a suspicious package at the airport that prompted the Los Angeles Police Department to deploy their bomb squad.
After police addressed the suspicious package at TSA’s LAX headquarters, a man believed to be Onuoha dialed up the airport and demanded that employees “begin evacuating certain terminals.”
According to a local NBC affiliate, Onuoha is accused of calling up TSA and warning an agent on the other end of the line that he would “be watching” to see if they followed his orders. The airport was evacuated, but the LAPD did not find any evidence suggesting an attack of sorts was imminent.
The package left at TSA headquarters — addressed to a former co-worker of Onuoha — reportedly contained an eight-page letter critical of the United States and the TSA. An investigation at Onuoha’s Inglewood, CA residence later in the day turned up a note taped to the inside of his closet. Federal Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Laura Einmiller told reporters that the letter contained “an unspecified threat citing the 9/11/13 anniversary.”
Investigators tracked down Onuoha later that evening after locating his vehicle at the Riverside’s Harvest Christian Fellowship Church. Riverside Police Lt. Milby told NBC4 that more suspicious packages were located in Onuoha’s car, and a bomb squad was once again called to assist.
Los Angeles Airport Police Chief Patrick M. Gannon issued a statement amid the manhunt for Onuoha saying that three major area traffic hubs would see an increased police presence following what was described as an incidence at LAX “involving a disgruntled former airport worker and the 9/11 anniversary tragedy.”
The FBI told NBC that Onuoha is suspected of violating federal and state laws involving the making of terrorist threats, but have not immediately filed charges.
Onuoha’s resignation came one day short of commemorating 12 years since al-Qaeda extremists hijacked four airlines and crashed them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field. Roughly 3,000 people died in the terrorist attacks.