Disruptive Airline Passenger Faces Federal Charges for False Bomb Threat
- Ingrid Jones
- December 8, 2023
Jacksonville, Florida – United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg has announced the arrest and filing of a criminal complaint against Evan Sims (41, Rhode Island), charging him with false information and threats related to the possession of an explosive on an airplane. Sims could face a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison if convicted.
The incident unfolded on December 5, 2023, during a flight from Orlando to Providence, Rhode Island. Court documents reveal that Sims, engaged in an argument with his travel companion, made unsettling remarks that raised concerns among passengers and flight crew members.
Before takeoff, Sims expressed unfamiliarity with the airline and hoped the plane would not “go down.” He alluded to the possibility of emergency situations, commenting on the need to use the emergency doors and expressing doubt about the windows’ condition. Sims even questioned the flight crew about the emergency life raft in the overhead compartment.
As the flight commenced its initial ascent, Sims heightened tensions by standing up and declaring his desire to leave the plane. During the airborne phase, Sims reportedly made two separate statements accusing his travel companion of carrying a bomb onboard. Faced with Sims’s disruptive behavior and escalating threats, the flight was diverted to Jacksonville International Airport.
Upon landing, bomb-detection dogs were deployed to search the plane thoroughly, but no explosives were found. Nevertheless, Sims’s actions prompted a significant disruption to the flight and raised concerns about passenger safety.
A criminal complaint is a formal charge indicating that a defendant has violated federal criminal law. Sims is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
The Transportation Security Administration, Jacksonville Aviation Authority Airport Police Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation diligently investigated this case. Assistant United States Attorney Ashley Washington will lead the prosecution.
The incident underscores the seriousness with which authorities treat threats to aviation security and the importance of ensuring the safety and well-being of all passengers. Such disruptive behavior not only creates panic among travellers but also diverts critical resources toward investigating false threats, potentially putting lives at risk.
Passengers must remain vigilant and report suspicious behavior to airline personnel or authorities. In this case, the swift and coordinated response by the investigating agencies reflects the commitment to maintaining the highest standards of safety and security within the aviation industry.
As this case unfolds, the legal process will determine the outcome for Evan Sims, emphasizing the gravity of making false threats that compromise air travel safety for everyone on board.