Man arrested at LAX with weapons to be in court
LOS ANGELES -- A man arrested at Los Angeles International Airport after authorities found he was carrying a suitcase full of weapons could find out Friday whether he will remain behind bars or be freed.
A detention hearing is scheduled for Yongda Huang Harris, 28, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Abrams. Harris could be remanded back into custody if he's determined to be a flight risk or a danger to the public. He's been charged with one count of transporting hazardous materials, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
Harris was arrested last week during a stopover trip from Japan on his way to Boston. He was wearing a bulletproof vest under a trench coat and also wore flame-retardant pants and knee pads.
A search of Harris' checked luggage uncovered numerous suspicious items, including a smoke grenade, knives, body bags, a hatchet, a collapsible baton, a biohazard suit, a gas mask, billy clubs, handcuffs, leg irons and a device to repel dogs, authorities said.
Harris' motives remain unclear, partly because he hasn't cooperated with federal authorities. Chris Williams, a spokesman for Harris' attorney Steven Seiden, said Harris was following his attorney's advice to exercise his constitutional right to remain silent.
Harris is a U.S. citizen whose permanent residence is in Boston, though he recently started living and working in Japan, officials said.
He did get off his flight in South Korea before he headed to Los Angeles. South Korean security officials screened Harris and his carry-on luggage, but the smoke grenade made it onto the plane in his checked luggage, according to a U.S. Homeland Security official briefed on the investigation. The official was not authorized to discuss the case publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The smoke grenade was X-rayed by police bomb squad officers in Los Angeles, who said the device fell into a category that is prohibited on board passenger aircraft. It is banned from planes under the United Nations' explosives shipping rules.
Most of the items wouldn't violate Transportation Security Administration guidelines for what is permissible in checked luggage, and the protective vest and pants are not listed among items prohibited on flights.