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Press Release

Rhode Island Man Charged With Making Fake Bomb Threat On Airplane

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida

Jacksonville, Florida – United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces the arrest and filing of a criminal complaint charging Evan Sims (41, Rhode Island) with false information and threats regarding the possession of an explosive on an airplane. If convicted, Sims faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. 

According to court documents, on December 5, 2023, Sims was traveling on a flight from Orlando to Providence, Rhode Island. While seated on the airplane, prior to takeoff, Sims began arguing with his travel companion. Sims told his travel companion that he had never heard of the airline for the flight and that he hoped the airplane did not “go down.” Sims stated that they would be “gone with the wind.”

During boarding and the airliner safety briefing, Sims made comments to his travel companion about needing to use the emergency doors and that the windows looked like they had not been used. Sims also told his travel companion that he hoped they did not have to use the windows. Further, Sims questioned the flight crew regarding the emergency life raft that was in the overhead storage compartment. Sims’s travel companion and the surrounding passengers were uncomfortable with Sims’s statements and Sims’s travel companion asked Sims to stop making his comments.

As the flight began the initial ascent into the air, Sims partially stood up in his seat and exclaimed that he wanted to get off the plane. While the flight was airborne, Sims stated approximately two times that his travel companion had a bomb on the plane. Thereafter, due to Sims’s repeated disturbances and escalating behavior, the flight was diverted to the Jacksonville International Airport. Bomb-detection dogs  searched the plane but did not locate a bomb.  

A complaint is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

This case was investigated by the Transportation Security Administration, Jacksonville Aviation Authority Airport Police Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ashley Washington.

Updated December 7, 2023

National Security