Saturday, October 1, 2016

Sioux Falls Regional Airport worker arrested for terrorist threats

A man who works security at the Sioux Falls Regional Airport was arrested on Thursday for threatening to shoot employees at the airport.

Connor Raysby Park, 22, was charged with making a terrorist threat, police spokesman Sam Clemens said. Park is employed by a private security company that is contracted by the Transportation Security Administration at the airport.

On Friday afternoon, Judge Sara Pokela set Park's bond at $50,000 cash-surety, with the conditions that he not have any contact with the airport or its employees. He is also not allowed to have contact with any weapons.

"In light of the current climate in our country ... a high bond is appropriate," Pokela said.

Police say Park told a fellow employee earlier this week that he wanted to shoot people at the airport, specifically, his superiors. Alarmed, the employee reported it to management, who called police.

Officers deemed the threat "credible" after they discovered that Park had access to two or three firearms, Clemens said. Park was arrested at his home in the 600 block of South Cliff Avenue at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

The state originally asked for a $100,000 cash-only bond for Park, saying that he had been depressed lately and had been "practicing" at a local gun range.

Park's lawyer, Grant Alvine, said that he had not been able to see the police report prior to Park's initial appearance, but said Park had been evaluated on a mental hold and was deemed not dangerous.

"He didn't act ... on any of this," Alvine said, referring to the threats.

When asked if he understood, Park said yes and asked, "Can I say one thing?" but was silenced by the judge.

Outside the courtroom, Alvine and members of Park's family declined to comment on the case.

While the threats were not actually carried out, Clemens said the other employee did the right thing by reporting it.

"We have to take (threats) seriously," Clemens said. "Reporting that to the police is the best way to stop it."

Contract officers undergo the same background checks as regular TSA employees, the organization confirmed.

"The Transportation Security Administration holds its employees and contractors to the highest ethical standards and does not tolerate illegal behavior," TSA spokesman Michael England said in an email. "TSA will work with law enforcement and our contractor to investigate these allegations thoroughly."

A statewide background check on Park revealed that he has no criminal record except for speeding infractions. He is scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing within 15 days.


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