Judge denies bail to man arrested after weapons cache found in luggage at Los Angeles airport
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Authorities said Friday that a man who wore a bulletproof vest on a plane and had knives and other weapons in his checked bags also had manuals stored on his computer detailing how to kill people and schedules showing when kids would arrive and leave from Japanese schools.
The disclosures came during a court appearance by suspect Yongda Huang Harris during which U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Abrams declared him to be a flight risk and ordered him held without bond until he stands trial.
Federal prosecutors also argued that Harris, 28, is a danger to the community by noting that his computer contained publications outlining how to commit certain types of murders and kidnappings. One document entitled "Man Trapping" showed how to hunt and trap human beings.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa Mills said an examination of Harris' computer revealed he had a "strong interest" in sexual violence against girls. There was also a document with schedules for schools.
In his ruling, Abrams said the evidence showed Harris was not making good choices.
Harris was arrested a week ago during a stopover in Los Angeles on his trip from Japan to Boston. He was wearing a bulletproof vest under a trench coat and also wore flame-retardant pants and knee pads.
A search of his checked luggage uncovered numerous suspicious items, including a smoke grenade, knives, body bags, a hatchet, collapsible baton, biohazard suit, billy clubs, handcuffs, leg irons and a device to repel dogs, authorities said.
Harris is currently charged with one count of transporting hazardous materials — in relation to the smoke grenade — which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
Defence attorney Steven Seiden, who asked that his client be released on bail, said the clothing worn by Harris is commonplace in Asian counties and described the outfit as resembling martial arts clothing. He said the body bags were actually a large duffel bag for moving items.
Seiden said in court that Harris had been a victim of violence before — attacked on a Boston street — and he carried some of the items found in his luggage to defend himself.
"He may have interests that are not of the norm, but that doesn't mean he's carrying out any type of harm to anyone," Seiden said.
The bespectacled Harris was shackled in handcuffs and wore a white prison-issued jumpsuit, along with a blue surgical mask over his mouth due to a throat infection.
Before the hearing, he crossed and rubbed his arms, appearing to be cold. He often turned and spoke with Seiden.
Harris is a U.S. citizen whose permanent residence is in Boston, though he recently started living and working in Japan, officials said. Harris was returning to Boston because his stepfather had recently passed away, Seiden said.
He got 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.