Crime & Justice

LAPD: LAX dry ice bomb suspect was playing a prank (Update)

A Los Angles Airport Police patrol car.
A Los Angles Airport Police patrol car.
Photo by Antony Kwok via Flickr Creative Commons

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UPDATE 4:21 p.m. LAPD stresses the seriousness of dry ice bombs

Los Angeles police said on Wednesday that an employee accused of setting off dry ice bombs at LAX was motivated to perform a prank, not to commit an act of terror. But police also stress how serious they take the devices, which can be designed to cause serious harm or even kill someone.

Dicarlo Bennett, 28, was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of possessing and/or exploding a destructive device near an aircraft. He remains in jail Wednesday in lieu of $1 million bail.

The statements came during a news conference at LAPD headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. Authorities also say dry ice is readily available at LAX because it's often used to pack food items.

Law enforcement authorities and airport officials are planning a review of security procedures at LAX and will consider any enhancements.

Police also clarified that two dry ice bombs exploded Sunday night, but apparently one was not reported until Monday, the same day another device was found. No one was hurt.

PREVIOUSLY: The LAPD arrested an LAX employee Tuesday on suspicion of placing several dry ice bombs around the airport, two of which exploded.

Dicarlo Bennett, 28, was taken into custody in the city of Paramount and was booked into the Metropolitan Detention Center on a charge of possessing and/or exploding a destructive device near an aircraft, according to an LAPD statement. He is being held in lieu of $1,000,000 bail.

Detectives did not immediately disclose his position at the airport.

Earlier on Tuesday, police said they believed the two dry ice explosions at Los Angeles International Airport were triggered by a disgruntled employee and were not an act of terror.

One device exploded in an employee men's room Sunday. An exploded bottle was also found that night on the tarmac near the international terminal, but an employee threw it away. The same employee found an unexploded bottle Monday evening and then reported his earlier find.

The science behind dry ice bombs

Dry ice bombs are basically made with chunks of dry ice capped inside a plastic soda bottle with some hot water inside. Since dry ice is the solid form of carbon dioxide, when the chunks “melt” or convert into gas, it creates pressure inside the bottle until it explodes.

The great noise of the blast can really make you jump. Most dry ice explosions don’t kill people, but they have the potential to seriously hurt anyone close to the blast. Or if it explodes inside a cinder block, it may create shrapnel.

Robert Dazikyan owns Glendale Ice Company. The physics-trained businessman said most explosions are small and used in science experiments. But depending on what you use in the bottle, it can be dangerous.

“If for some reason they put some nails or any metallic particles inside of the bottle, the explosion of force will force them out and hurt people,” Dazikyan says.

That’s why Dazikyan says he doesn’t sell dry ice to anyone younger than 18 years. It’s not illegal to sell dry ice to minors but some stores make that their own rule. And some don’t sell dry ice to the general public.

California law specifically makes creating, possessing or exploding a dry ice bomb a felony.