wjxt logo

Man arrested at JIA told TSA: 'I have a bomb'

Witnesses reported seeing man storm through security, claimed to have bomb

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 39-year-old man is in jail after police say he approached a TSA agent and said he had a bomb, prompting the Jacksonville International Airport to be evacuated and closed for several hours.

Zeljko Causevic was arrested by Aviation Authority police and booked into the Duval County Jail at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday morning on charges of making a false report about planting a bomb or explosive, and manufactured possession, sale, delivery or mailing of a hoax bomb.

At a Wednesday afternoon hearing, a judge ordered Causevic held on $1 million bond.

The arrest report describes the device in Causevic's bag as a luggage scale with two batteries and a microchip inside and he had a remote control device that he called a "detonator."

JIA's external affairs director said Causevic was detained at the airport at 5:41 p.m. after he made "a statement referring to a bomb" to a Transportation Safety Administration officer.

The man, a Jacksonville resident born in Bosnia but now a U.S. citizen, was arrested after being questioned by police and the FBI.

DOCUMENT: Causevic arrest report  

Passengers at JIA told Channel 4 they witnessed two men being taken into custody, but police have not confirmed if either of those men was Causevic.  Airport authorities did say a second man was arrested Tuesday night outside the terminal on a charge of resisting arrest without violence, but they said he had no connection to Causevic and the hoax device.

A nervous traveler watched the man tried to storm through security screening.

"He was wearing a dark leather jacket. He had dark hair, he was wearing sunglasses, shoes. That was weird, the fact that he was trying to go through with all of that on. He had to take all of that off to get through security. So, it's kind of scary," said Catherine Swan-Clark who witnessed the the airport incident.

IMAGES: Suspicious packages found, airport evacuated, 2 detained
UNCUT VIDEO: Passenger records police escorting man from plane

"The guy apparently, was not cooperating. I mean, I was in the middle of getting patted down and he... all the TSA agents started moving in and I heard one of the agents say, 'so you're telling me you have a bomb?'. And the guy said, 'Yes, I have a bomb,'" Swan-Clark.

Hearing those words, she said TSA agents moved in on the man, but he wasn't violent, or loud she remembers, but rather cooperative.

"He was calm. He was calm. He wasn't, I didn't hear any screaming or anything. He was talking to the agent. He was talking calmly to him," said Swan-Clark.

That's when she said officers took the man away.

Channel has learned that Causevic lives on the Southside, and for the last eight months was a driver for a Macclenny trucking company. He had no criminal history.

A neighbor told Channel 4 that Causevic had always seemed to be a great person, but he started acting strange a few months ago. His wife had told her she was concerned about his recent behavior and for the safety of herself and their children.

"Yesterday she came over to the house and said that he was acting kind of psychotic," Bella said. "He had took her phone and she didn't know what he was going to do, but she was fearful."

Bella said police swarmed Causevic's house Tuesday night, with officers and the bomb squad checking the property, including the garbage cans.

Police were called to Causevic's home in March after he told police his wife was suicidal. When officers arrived, she told them he was the one "starting to show signs of (posttraumatic stress disorder) from the time he was in Bosnia during the war there," according to a police report.

She told police there had been stress in their marriage, and they had been fighting more than usual. He was on the road driving a truck that day, and his wife told an officer when he got back home she would take him to a doctor and "have him checked for any mental illness," according to the report.

During Tuesday night's airport evacuation, viewers sent Channel 4 pictures of the police activity, including photos of Causevic in handcuffs and a second man being held down by officers. 

That man turned out to be 35-year-old Manuel Rivera, an Illinois resident.

According to police, when Rivera was approached after "displaying suspicious behavior" a second time Tuesday, he was rude, belligerent and defensive.  When he tried to pull away from officers, he was arrested on a charge of resisting arrest without violence.

A passenger also sent Channel 4 cellphone video of a another man being removed from a U.S. Air flight by officers after the pilot reported he was acting suspicious. That man was questioned and released.

"I was hoping that when I saw him being arrested and escorted out, I was hoping that I'd be able to get out Tuesday," said Swan-Clark, but the airport remained closed until 11 p.m. and most departing passengers had to spend the night in Jacksonville.