Air Force Reservist Arrested for Delta Bomb Threat

Travel News — By Ben Van Loon on May 4, 2010 at 7:08 am

On Monday, April 19th, Delta International Flight 273 left from Paris and was scheduled to land in Atlanta, GA at 5:25pm. However, it was forced to take an early, emergency landing in Bangor, ME after 27 year-old Air Force Reservist Derek Stansberry of Riverview, Florida made claims to the flight attendants that he was in possession of explosive devices. He claimed that his laptop and his bombs were rigged to explode. After Air Marshals sectioned off Stansberry and his luggage, the flight was grounded and the Bangor bomb-squad searched the plane, revealing Stansberry’s claims to be false.

The United States District Court of Maine has a detailed account of the arrest and the preceeding incidents posted here, in an official affadavit which claims that Stansberry handed an incoherent note to a flight attendant, parts of which read, “I am not an American citizen. I was in Ouaga illegally. My passports and identity are fake. […] Please let my family know the truth – I f—ed up & will let the HN preside over the prosecutions; and that I love them.” It was not until after the Air Marshals detained Stansberry that he made bomb threats, though CNN reports that none of these events ever disrupted the other passengers on the flight.

FBI Agent McCarty, who interviewed Stansberry after the incident, claimed that Stansberry “was responsive to questions, but he spoke in military jargon and had trouble keeping the events in a chronological order.” This follows the somewhat strange confession Stansberry made later, that he took eight Ambien tablets before the flight, perhaps diluting his conscious awareness of the events and sourcing the cryptic nature of his initial note. He later changed his claims about the amount of pills he ingested, and explained that he made threats in order to distract from his possession of “classified information.”

According to Stansberry’s military history, as well as the words of his friends and family in response to the bomb threats, Derek Stansberry’s behavior on April 19th was “totally out of what anyone would expect from Derek.” He’d done military tours of both Iraq and Afghanistan between 2005 and 2009 and was returning from fulfilling a three-month contract job with the private defense company, R4. According to Stansberry’s father, Derek still has plans to return to his Florida home which he shares with his girlfriend and life as usual, though for now he faces charges which threaten a 25 year maximum sentence and up to $500,000 in fines, pending competency tests at his current residence, the Penobscot County Jail.


Tags: airline safety, atlanta, bangor, bomb threat, Delta Flight 273, military, Paris

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