A man on a flight Friday evening out of Chicago made a bomb threat as the plane was set to take off for Sacramento, according to Cook County prosecutors.
On Sunday, Cook County Judge Michael R. Clancy set bail at $5,000 for Michael Bielinski, 28, who was charged with disorderly conduct for making the threat on American Airlines flight No. 1316 out of O’Hare International Airport.
The plane was still on the runway about 5:20 p.m. when Bielinski tapped a woman sitting next to him on the shoulder and told her “we’re all going to die,” and the “plane is going to explode,” prosecutors said. As he made the threat, he took out of his pocket what appeared to be a pipe with liquid in it and started to put a battery inside. The pipe later turned out to be an electronic vaping cigarette.
He then grabbed the woman’s carry-on bag from underneath her seat, held it up and said, “I should give this to them in case it’s a bomb,” according to an arrest report. He added, “Maybe it’s a good time to cut out the bomb material.”
The woman, concerned for the safety of everyone on the plane, told the flight crew about the man’s comments and that he had a very strong odor of gasoline, prosecutors said. The pilot contacted the O’Hare operations control center and taxied the plane back to Gate K4, where officers arrested Bielinski.
Officers recovered the electronic vape, four batteries and the charger for the vape, arrest records show. The arrest report also confirmed Bielinski had a “strong odor of kerosene,” and officers found he was in possession of 10 mg of THC, though it wasn’t clear in what form.
Bielinski, of the North Park neighborhood, hired a private attorney, but the lawyer didn’t show up to court, according to the public defender assigned to the case.
An American Airlines spokeswoman declined to comment, referring questions to the Chicago Police Department.
Bielinski, who has worked as a truck driver for the past two years, is next due in court on Friday.
Contributing: Tom Schuba