Man accused of trying to board plane with seal bomb, knives

Posted: Sunday, May 25, 2003

BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) A man who apparently was heading for Bristol Bay was arrested by FBI agents at the Bellingham airport Friday after he showed security screeners two pocketknives he was carrying, and then a small ''seal bomb'' was found in his checked bag.

Authorities said it did not appear that Ricky Reed, 43, of Bellingham, had any plans to bring down the plane.

When asked about his pocketknives by screeners at the small airport just south of the Canadian border, he said, ''What's the matter, do you think I'm going to hijack the plane or something?'' Whatcom County sheriff's Deputy Jeff Parks told The Bellingham Herald.

Reed arrived late for Alaska Airlines Flight 2119 to Seattle on Friday morning and took out his pocketknives at a passenger-screening area around 8:30 a.m., when screeners asked if he had any weapons, according to Parks.

Deputies pulled him aside, consulted with an airline supervisor and decided to search Reed's checked bag.

Inside it, they found a ''seal bomb,'' equivalent to about one-quarter stick of dynamite, which fishermen use to scare seals away from fishing grounds.

Deputies called in FBI agents, who arrested Reed for investigation of possessing an explosive device, Sheriff Bill Elfos said.

At his initial court appearance Friday afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary Alice Theiler in Seattle, Reed was charged with one count of attempting to carry a concealed weapon on an aircraft and one count of attempting to place a bomb on board an aircraft, said John Hartingh, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office.

Reed was assigned a public defender and granted conditional release until his next court appearance, scheduled for June 14.

Until then, he has to give up his passport, stay in Western Washington, undergo drug and alcohol testing, maintain contact with a court officer and not break any laws, Hartingh said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Hamilton, a prosecutor assigned to the case, declined to comment, and a clerk at the Federal Public Defender's Office said no attorneys were available for comment Friday afternoon.

Efforts to reach Reed were unsuccessful. There was no listing for a Ricky Reed in Bellingham.

Investigators deemed the bomb powerful enough to bring down an airplane and said Reed seemed upset.

''He did appear to be upset about his personal life, but there was nothing particularly directed toward the flight or trying to bring down an airplane or anything like that,'' Parks said.

Reed initially denied knowing about the bomb. At first, officials said, he claimed his wife had packed his bag, then acknowledged he knew the device was in his bag.

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