Passenger on Frontier Airlines Flight Charged with Communicating False Information and Threats
|U.S. Attorney’s Office June 18, 2013|
DENVER—Mark Michael Bote, age 23, of Thornton, Colorado, was charged yesterday by criminal complaint with one count of false information and threats while aboard Frontier Airlines Flight 601 en route from Knoxville, Tennessee to Denver, Colorado, United States Attorney John Walsh and FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Thomas Ravenelle announced. Bote is scheduled to make his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Craig B. Shaffer at 2:00 p.m. today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Craig B. Shaffer, barring unforeseen circumstances, where he will be advised of his rights and the charges pending against him.
According to the FBI affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, on June 14, 2013, at 7:20 p.m., the FBI’s airport liaison was notified of an inflight disturbance aboard Frontier Airlines Flight 601 en route from McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville, Tennessee to Denver International Airport. Federal agents and task force officers responded to the airport based on the notification.
On board the flight, one passenger noticed Bote seemed nervous, was shaking, had his eyes closed, and was rocking back and forth. A second passenger also noticed that Bote looked nervous and that his eyes were glazed over. When Bote took his seat, he kept his backpack on. A flight attendant asked that he remove it. He put it under the seat in front of him but would not let completely go of it. Later in the flight, a flight attendant asked Bote if he was OK. He replied with the word “bomb” and some other words the flight attendant could not make out. The flight attendant confirmed with him twice to make sure he knew he was saying the word “bomb.”
A third passenger on board who sat next to defendant noted that Bote spent a majority of the flight sleeping. When he suddenly awoke, Bote allegedly said, “Help me, help me.” The flight attendant asked what was wrong, and Bote responded, “There’s a bomb. There’s a bomb.” He was shaking as he held the backpack. Later, Bote’s backpack was taken from him.
Toward the end of the flight, the flight attendants discussed the situation. When Bote said he had a bomb in his carry-on bag, the flight attendants consulted with the captain. On the captain’s orders, the flight attendants initiated bomb procedures, which included moving passengers and bags.
One of the passengers advised the flight attendants that she was traveling with Bote and was a member of his church group. They had been in Tennessee helping build a church. She stated that the defendant was not well.
Further investigation by the FBI revealed that Bote thought someone was stalking him. He was holding on to the backpack because he thought someone put a bomb in it because it felt heavier than it had previously. Bote was arrested pending federal charges.
If convicted of false information and threats, the defendant faces not more than five years in federal prison and up to a $250,000 fine.
This case was investigated by the FBI and the Denver Police Department.
The defendant is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James Allison, Chief of the Criminal Division of the Colorado U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Anyone accused of committing a federal felony crime has a Constitutional right to be indicted by a federal grand jury. The charges contained in the criminal complaint are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.