Suspicious items found at LI airport

October 16, 2008 5:05:36 PM PDT
A man trying to board an airplane to Las Vegas was arrested Thursday after a pipe bomb, knife, fireworks and other suspicious electronics were found in his luggage at a Long Island airport, authorities said. Steven Nobles told authorities he built the pipe bomb using a metal pipe, fuses and gunpowder from M-80 explosives, smokebombs and other fireworks. His intent, according to a federal complaint, was for the device to "cause a giant smoke cloud, a flash of light and hopefully a loud noise."

The 20-year-old Las Vegas man showed up in court wearing a black T-shirt featuring a machine gun and green glow-in-the-dark skulls, and was promptly denied bail.

"His actions are bizarre. I don't feel comfortable giving him bail at this time," U.S. Magistrate A. Kathleen Tomlinson said in U.S. District Court in Central Islip following his arrest at Long Island's MacArthur Airport.

Nobles faces charges including carrying a weapon or explosive on an aircraft and up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Nobles denied intending to use the devices on the airplane and said he didn't know he had the pipe bomb in his bag, telling authorities he inadvertently carried the items to the airport.

Approximately 500 passengers in the terminal were evacuated during the two-hour ordeal that ended shortly after 9 a.m., airport authorities said.

The complaint said Nobles was stopped during a routine screening inside the airport terminal before his Southwest Airlines flight to Las Vegas. Transportation Security Administration security officers first noticed a 7-inch folding knife in Nobles' bag, followed by what appeared to be a pipe bomb.

At that point the airport was evacuated and Nobles was arrested.

A subsequent check of the man's checked luggage revealed fireworks, electrical circuit boards, a battery with electrical tape and .22-caliber rounds used in a nailgun to drive nails into concrete, the complaint said.

Nobles' attorney declined to speak on the matter, and the FBI did not return a call seeking comment.

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