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Los Angeles airport worker pleads not guilty in dry ice bomb case

By Brandon Lowrey

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A baggage handler accused of setting off two dry ice bombs at the Los Angeles International Airport, in what police have said was a purported prank, pleaded not guilty to explosives charges on Thursday in a California courthouse.

Dicarlo Bennett, a 28-year-old Servisair employee who appeared in Airport Court in Los Angeles with his hands cuffed behind his back, is charged with two counts of possessing a destructive device in a public place. He was being held on $1 million bail.

One of the bombs he is accused of setting detonated on Sunday evening in an employee restroom and the second exploded outside the Tom Bradley International Terminal on Monday, causing some flight disruptions. An unexploded device was found later that night.

Authorities have said there were no connections to terrorism in the case. Prosecutor Sean Carney told reporters on Thursday that police were investigating whether another person was involved in the incident, but gave no further details.

Los Angeles Airport Police Chief Patrick Gannon had said on Wednesday that Bennett intended the ice bombs to be a prank, but said: "It's not a prank and it's going to be dealt with very seriously."

The type of blast caused by dry ice is typically created by putting dry ice into a bottle or other container and sealing it tightly, which allows pressure to build until it explodes.

Bennett is suspected of having obtained the dry ice via his job at the airport, prompting officials there to announce that they would change policies regarding handling of the materials.

Bennett's lawyer, Ben Wasserman, said the charges against his client were too severe, and that Bennett had no intent to cause any destruction. Prosecutors have said Bennett, who was arrested on Tuesday, could face up to six years in county jail if convicted.

In May, a similar device went off at Disneyland, forcing evacuation of a section of the park in Anaheim, California.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Gunna Dickson and Lisa Shumaker)

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