FBI arrests suspect in bomb threats that targeted Atlanta flights

Channel 2's Mark Winne was the first to learn that the FBI has arrested a person suspected of tweeting bomb threats that targeted Atlanta flights.

The FBI said the suspect was arrested in the United Kingdom.

Fighter jets escorted two planes to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in January 2015, where they were met by a bomb squad and federal agents.

The FBI released a statement Thursday saying:

"The January, 2015 threats resulted in the deployment of significant resources including the use of military jets to escort the planes to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and searches by a police bomb squad and the FBI that found nothing threatening."

Delta Flight 1156 was coming to Atlanta from Portland, Oregon. Southwest Flight 2492 was heading to Atlanta from Milwaukee. Both landed safely at the airport.

FBI special agent Steve Emmett told Winne Thursday that even before the planes had been escorted from the runway at Hartsfield-Jackson, the FBI’s joint terrorism task force had already launched an investigation into the incidents over who sent the tweets that caused the threats.

“The message certainly is that these individuals are not beyond the reach of law enforcement,” Emmett told Winne.

Winne learned Thursday that a FBI agent from Atlanta was at the scene when authorities nabbed the suspect.

“A lot of the work that brought us to the arrest of this individual was conducted right here in Atlanta field office and shared with the British,” Emmett said.


Emmett said the investigation focused on the real identity behind the person with the Twitter handle King Zortic that suggested the flights carried hidden bombs.

“We have cyber experts that are trained to unmask those that want to remain masked,” Emmett said.

The investigation revealed there were no bombs on board either of the flights.

Emmett told Winne the incidents changed how at least one airline deals with social media threats.

“This is a wake-up call to not only law enforcement but to airlines. This has been a teaching moment for many folks as we deal with threats in the era of social media,” Emmett said. “These threats are going to be a constant concern for law enforcement to deal with. It's not going away. Social media-based threats are out there and we need to learn how to deal with them.”