Crime & Justice

LAX dry ice bomb suspect pleads not guilty (Update)

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

Update 3:47 p.m. A suspect in the dry ice bottle blasts at Los Angeles International Airport has entered not guilty pleas to two charges of possessing a destructive device in a public place.

Dicarlo Bennett, 28, said little beyond acknowledging his name during a brief hearing Thursday before Judge Keith Schwartz. He works as a baggage handler for an airport service company.

No one was injured in the blasts Sunday that authorities say were done for Bennett's amusement in areas of the airport accessible only to employees.

He is being held on $1 million bail and could face up to six years in prison. Another hearing was set for Oct. 23.

Update 1:39 p.m. Airport officials changed their policy on how dry ice is discarded after an abandoned container of dry ice from a plane was used to fashion and explode the bombs.

The airport will now require employees to return dry ice — often used to keep food fresh — to a warehouse and not leave it out on the tarmac, said Los Angeles Airport Police Chief Patrick Gannon.

Airport officials plan to meet with law enforcement authorities in the coming days to examine other potential security enhancements at one of the nation's busiest airports.

A 20-ounce plastic bottle packed with dry ice exploded in an employee bathroom and another blew up on the airport's tarmac Sunday. An employee found a third unexploded plastic bottle still expanding Monday on the tarmac.

Investigators believe the bombs were set "out of a desire to construct and experience a device exploding," said Los Angeles police Lt. John Karle. He called it foolish and negligent behavior.

Police primarily relied on interviews with witnesses and physical evidence but also reviewed surveillance video.

Cameras cover some of these restricted-access areas, but Downing said there isn't as much camera coverage as in public-access areas.

The union representing police at LAX said the incident highlights the need for the installation of more security cameras at the airport.