Ex-TSA agent, suspended for teen incident, arrested in threats

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 11, 2013 4:27 PM

By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A former federal airport security agent, suspended for telling a teenage girl to cover up in an incident chronicled in her father's blog, has been arrested on suspicion of making threats to Los Angeles International Airport, law enforcement officials said on Wednesday.

Nna Alpha Onuoha, a Nigerian-born U.S. military veteran, was taken into custody just before midnight on Tuesday in connection with written and telephoned threats made soon after his resignation from the Transportation Security Administration and on the eve of the 12th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

Onuoha, a naturalized U.S. citizen, is accused of sending an eight-page letter to the TSA's headquarters at Los Angeles airport, expressing disdain for the United States, among other opinions, and making two threatening phone calls to the airport, said FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller.

The calls prompted law enforcement to evacuate air terminals but no threat was found, Eimiller said. Onuoha had not yet been charged in the case.

Onuoha, 29, was suspended from his job earlier this year after being accused of making the remarks to a 15-year-old girl who was traveling with a group of high school students on a college tour.

The girl's father, Mark Frauenfelder, blogged about the incident on the website Boing Boing. He wrote that a TSA screener had glared at his daughter and mumbled to himself before telling her: "You're only 15, COVER YOURSELF."

Frauenfelder described his daughter as "shaken up" but did not give the identity of the TSA agent in the June 16 incident. Two law enforcement officials, however, confirmed it was the same agent.

The length of Onuoha's suspension was not immediately clear, but Eimiller said that he had resigned on Tuesday afternoon, shortly before the threats were made.

Following the threats, Joint Terrorism law enforcement agents went to his apartment in a suburban Los Angeles veterans' housing complex in Inglewood, where they found a note taped inside a closet containing an unspecified threat citing the anniversary of September 11, Eimiller said.

Onuoha was not at home but was later arrested in his van in a church parking lot in Riverside, some 60 miles east of Los Angeles.

Eimiller said law enforcement agents were inspecting the van for potential threats. She said it was not immediately clear if Onuoha had ties to the church.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)