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Man made airport bomb threat during vice president's visit, police say

Suspect accused of screaming, 'It's about to explode'

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ORLANDO, Fla. – A man is accused of yelling that his backpack would explode while he was at Orlando International Airport during Vice President Mike Pence's visit on Thursday, the Orlando Police Department said.

Fred Gray, 42, approached the east information desk at OIA around 5:08 p.m. and approached the woman working there.

"You see this backpack?," he asked the woman, according to the report.

When she replied yes, police said Gray screamed, "It's about to explode. It's about to explode."

Other passengers in the area heard the screaming and ran away scared.

A TSA agent told police that Gray, of Dade City, approached him two minutes later and asking if there was a store in the airport where he could ship packages.

The TSA agent told Gray that there wasn't a shipping store at the airport and Gray replied, "Retarded but OK" and then asked where American Airlines was located.

"Yeah, I've got to get this bag checked in before it explodes," Gray told the TSA agent, according to the arrest affidavit.

An OPD officer made contact with Gray at the airport. She recognized him from earlier in the day when he reported that his wallet was stolen. Gray was separated from his backpack while a K-9 unit sniffed it out, police said.

Gray told officers that it was a free country and he could say what he wanted. He also said he did make statements about his bag exploding, but what he meant was that it was so full he was afraid the contents would burst out, according to the affidavit.

He said he doesn't like "those people" and didn't care about "Vice President Pence," the report said.

Pence and Panama President Juan Carlos Varela were both at the airport when Gray reportedly made the comments. Both men were in town to address Hurricane Maria survivors who fled Puerto Rico to come to Central Florida after the storm.

Gray is charged with two counts of making a false bomb threat.

 


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