An ex-Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screener charged with making threats directed at LAX terminals on the eve of the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror strikes is not competent to stand trial and will be sent to a mental hospital for treatment, a federal judge ruled on May 19.
Nna Alpha Onuoha, 30, faces up to 45 years in prison if convicted of three federal counts each of false information and hoaxes, and making telephonic threats, according to prosecutors.
After reviewing a doctor’s evaluation and hearing from the defendant, U.S. District Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell found that Onuoha is “presently suffering from a mental disorder” and cannot assist in his own defense.
Earlier, Onuoha, a Nigerian-born naturalized U.S. citizen, offered a rambling, incoherent statement to the court.
“God gave me a message and I delivered that message,” he said. “God is not a disease. I delivered a message to obey God and I was arrested. I shared the message with the world. I gave my testimony to the world.”
O’Connell ordered the defendant into treatment “forthwith” and set an Oct. 20 status conference.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa Mills said at a previous hearing that Onuoha “appeared to be living a perfectly normal life” until around the time the threats began.
Onuoha was arrested around midnight on Sept. 10, 2013, shortly after he resigned his TSA job at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
According to the indictment, Onuoha returned to LAX shortly after he resigned and left an eight-page letter addressed to a TSA manager, then placed threatening calls to airport officials, demanding the airport be evacuated.
In a call to a TSA checkpoint, Onuoha allegedly stated that the airport should be evacuated immediately, starting with Terminal 2, and that he would be watching to make sure his orders were followed.
At about the same time, Onuoha allegedly called LAX police dispatch and warned that the entire airport should be evacuated immediately, because he was going to “deliver a message to America and to the world.”
Prosecutors also allege that Onuoha — who had served in Kosovo with the National Guard — telephoned the TSA manager to whom he had addressed the eight-page letter and warned that “TSA was running out of time.”
At the time of his arrest, Onuoha was unemployed, homeless and $15,000 in debt, prosecutors said.
Onuoha had been forced to resign from his TSA job earlier in the day of his arrest, following a recent suspension for allegedly criticizing a 15-year-old girl’s wardrobe as too skimpy, according to the FBI.
The run-in with the teen made headlines when her father publicized it on his blog.