More patrols on watch at LAX after dry ice blasts

Posted: 10/16/13 at 6:05 am EDT      Last Updated: 10/16/13 at 3:42 pm EDT

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Passengers at Los Angeles International Airport saw stepped-up security patrols on Wednesday following the arrest of a baggage handler in connection with a pair of small explosions involving dry ice, some of which was taken from an airplane.

Police have not determined a motive but said they don't believe the explosions were an act of terror because of the locations of the devices and because people weren't targeted.

No one was hurt when plastic bottles packed with dry ice exploded in secured areas of the airport Sunday night. An unexploded device was found Monday night.

On Tuesday, police arrested Dicarlo Bennett, a 28-year-old employee for the ground handling company Servisair. He was booked for possession of a destructive device near an aircraft and held on $1 million bail.

The increased patrols will continue at least through Wednesday, Los Angeles Airport Police spokeswoman Belinda Nettles said. The presence will cover public areas at all terminals as well as the airfield.

Bennett took dry ice from a plane and placed a loaded bottle in a bathroom, according to a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation who wasn't authorized to speak publicly and asked to remain anonymous.

Remnants of another device were found the same night on a tarmac outside the main international terminal.

The incidents could be the work of a disgruntled employee due to an internal labor dispute, said Los Angeles police Deputy Chief Michael Downing, who heads the department's counter-terrorism and special operations bureau.

Swissport recently agreed to acquire Servisair and the transaction is expected to close by the end of the year. Messages seeking comment from Servisair have not been returned.

Bennett was riding in a van with several other people, including a supervisor, when he decided to plant one of the dry ice bombs, the official told The Associated Press. Those in the van were aware of the dry ice, the official said, but no other arrests have been made.

The bombs were made by putting dry ice in 20-ounce plastic bottles and the explosions could have injured anyone nearby, Downing said. Dry ice is widely used by vendors to keep food fresh.

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

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