Home / National News / Contract Employee Accused of Setting Fire That Grounded Chicago Flights Appears Before Magistrate


(CHICAGO) — Brian Howard, the 36-year-old man who allegedly started the fire at a Federal Aviation Administration facility near Chicago that prompted the delay or cancellation of hundreds of flights, appeared before a federal magistrate on Monday.

Howard said he understood the charges against him and the possible penalties he faces before waiving a preliminary hearing. The case will next be assigned to a federal district court judge, though no start date was scheduled.

Howard was not asked to enter a plea at Monday’s hearing.

He was arrested on Monday after being released from a local medical center.

After the hearing, Howard’s attorney Ron Safer said that his client had attempted to end his life on Friday when he set the fire, calling those actions a “tragic mistake.”

Safer did not say whether Howard will contest the charges against him, noting that “only someone who is deeply troubled would do that.”

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