Traveler admits to threatening to blow up MIA, is arrested

A man with a ticket to Philadelphia on an American Airlines flight was recently arrested at Miami International Airport after threatening to blow it up, according to Miami federal court records.

The suspect, identified in court papers as Joseph Reyes Rivera, 23, uttered the threat after an altercation at an MIA concourse while waiting to board the aircraft.

The incident was detailed in a criminal complaint filed by a senior federal air marshal with the Transportation Security Administration.

It unfolded Sept. 2 when Rivera prepared to board American Airlines flight 792 to Philadelphia.

“While waiting beyond the TSA Checkpoint in Concourse E, [Reyes] Rivera became verbally abusive to a group of children who were also inside the sterile area of Concourse E,” the complaint said. “Reyes was confronted by an adult female in the area, who asked Reyes to discontinue yelling at the children and to stop using profanity.”

At his point, Reyes became even more upset and, the complaint says, yelled: “I will blow this place up.”

A visiting law enforcement officer from London, who was nearby, called Miami-Dade Police, the complaint said.

When police arrived, the officers found people in the area fearful of an impending attack and placed Reyes under arrest, the complaint said.

When investigators questioned him, Reyes “admitted that he was abusive toward the children in the area and when confronted by the female he did in fact state ‘I will blow this place up,’” the complaint said.

The complaint does not say if Reyes carried any explosives, but it indicated that his threat was a hoax because it cited a violation of a section of the federal criminal code titled False Information and Hoaxes.

Reyes’s public defender, Celeste Siblesz Higgins, said she could not comment on the case. Reyes appeared Wednesday before Magistrate Judge Patrick White and pleaded not guilty. The trial has been tentatively scheduled to begin during the first two weeks in November before U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga.