(WASHINGTON) — Kyle Odom, the suspect in the Sunday shooting of a pastor in Idaho, had no trouble getting all the way to Washington, D.C., where he was arrested at the White House Tuesday night.
He simply boarded a plane in Boise, Idaho, and off he flew. His flight underscores a gap in the screening system for air travel. Passengers can’t bring liquids through airport security, but a wanted felon? No problem.
Airline passengers are checked against a no-fly list that is devoted to keeping possible terrorists off planes, law enforcement and homeland security sources say. Those who are flagged by the no-fly list, as the name indicates, are prohibited from boarding airplanes.
But the vetting system does not query criminal databases like the FBI’s National Crime Information Center. That means people with active arrest warrants can fly relatively freely in the country because they are not routinely flagged by the terrorist-watch list.
Law enforcement agencies can contact airports to let security staff and airport police know they are looking for a particular suspect, but the system is not automated. It requires some good, old-fashioned police work. Police can issue “be on the lookout,” or BOLO, alerts to airports and the U.S. Transportation Security Administration through fusion centers throughout the country.
In this case, it appears authorities were a step or two behind Odom. Investigators say the FBI was alerted to his possible presence in Washington about an hour before he was eventually nabbed by the U.S. Secret Service Uniformed Division for tossing items over the south fence of the White House complex.
Odom appeared Wednesday in D.C. Superior Court, where he was charged with fugitive from justice and he refused to waive his right to have an extradition hearing. He was ordered held without bond, Judge Renee Raymond finding him “an extreme risk of flight.”
His next hearing is scheduled for April 6, 2016, according to the court.
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