Los Angeles News

LAX body-armor-clad suspect to remain in custody

Friday, October 12, 2012

A judge has ruled that a man arrested at Los Angeles International Airport wearing a bulletproof vest and carrying weapons in his checked luggage will remain behind bars until trial.

Yongda Huang Harris, 28, was deemed a flight risk and a danger to the community at a detention hearing in downtown L.A. Friday. In court, he wore a mask because of a throat infection.

The naturalized U.S. cititzen was taken into custody at LAX on Oct. 5 after Customs and Border Protection officers noticed he was wearing a bulletproof vest and flame retardant pants under his trench coat. Inside his luggage, authorities say they found numerous weapons, including a smoke grenade, lead-filled leather-coated billyclubs, knives and a hatchet. Harris' lawyer says the items were not intended for any violent use.

His lawyer Steven Seiden tried to convince U.S. Magistrate Paul Abrams to allow Harris to be released and sent home to Boston to be with his mother. Harris was headed home to attend his stepfather's funeral.

"I would say he's a nice young man. He's shy, he's gentle, he's never caused harm to anyone," Seiden said.

Harris' lawyer also said the attire was a fashion statement, adding that is how young men in Japan dress. His lawyer added that Japanese security assured Harris what he was wearing was not illegal.

But Adams denied bail after prosecutors revealed Harris' computer had movies that depicted young girls being tortured. Federal prosecutor Melissa Mills described the items in his luggage as a kidnap kit, and said he seemed to have an interest in sexual violence.

Federal investigators are still trying to determine how Harris' suitcase made it on the plane. U.S. officials say South Korean authorities thoroughly searched Yongda Huang Harris and his carry-on luggage but found nothing suspicious, and he was allowed to board his Asiana Airlines flight to L.A.

Harris was a middle-school English teacher in Japan. Seiden said he was planning to learn the real estate business in Boston. While authorities do not believe Harris is linked to a terrorist organization, they haven't determined a motive.

Harris is facing one count of transporting hazardous materials. He is due back in court on Oct. 23 for a preliminary hearing. If convicted, he faces up to five years in federal prison.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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arrest, los angeles international airport, airport security, los angeles news, sid garcia
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