CNN reports:

A North Carolina college student will face federal felony charges of carrying a prohibited item onto an airplane in connection with box cutters found on two Southwest Airlines jets last week, a government source told CNN on Monday.

Nathaniel Heatwole, 20, of Damascus, Maryland, is expected to make an initial appearance Monday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

FBI agents interviewed Heatwole, a student at Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina, on Friday, but he was not arrested or charged.

The box cutters and other suspicious materials were found in plastic bags in the bathrooms of two Southwest Airlines planes, in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Houston, Texas, during maintenance checks Thursday.

The discoveries prompted the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security to order security inspections of all U.S. commercial airliners.


UPDATE (March 30, 2018): I’ve repointed the hyperlink from the story page to CNN’s homepage for reasons explained here.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. 42nd SSD says:

    I wish we knew the whole story here. Charging him with a crime seems a bit excessive and accomplishes virtually nothing–it’s incredibly unlikely he was any real threat, and he certainly wouldn’t have told them about it beforehand if he were. But I suppose prosecuting him makes the government feel better, and “sets an example” for us not to question their “expertise” in the matter.