DENVER - A 23-year-old Thornton man accused of a making a bomb threat on a Denver-bound Frontier Airlines flight seemed paranoid, anxious and expressed fear someone might sneak a bomb into his backpack, according to a federal arrest affidavit released Tuesday.
Mark Michael Bote, who has been charged with false information and threats during the flight, made his first appearance in Denver federal court on Tuesday afternoon.
He was arrested on Friday night at Denver International Airport when FBI agents and police met Frontier Flight 601 from Knoxville, Tenn. After the captain radioed that a passenger had reportedly made threats, the arriving jetliner was directed to a remote part of the airfield where law enforcement officers boarded the plane and handcuffed Bote.
According to an FBI affidavit supporting a criminal complaint against Bote, other passengers said the man appeared seemed nervous, was shaking, had his eyes closed and was rocking back and forth. One passenger also told investigators Bote's eyes were glazed over.
After taking his seat, Bote kept his backpack on, the affidavit said. A flight attendant asked that he remove it. He put it under the seat in front of him, but would not completely let go of it.
Later in the flight, a flight attendant asked Bote if he was OK. He reply with the word “bomb” and some other words the flight attendant couldn’t make out, the affidavit said. The flight attendant confirmed with him twice to make sure he knew he was saying the word “bomb”.
Another passenger who sat next to the man told investigators that Bote spent most of the flight sleeping. At one point, Bote suddenly jolted from his sleep, saying “Help me, help me," according to the affidavit.
The flight attendant asked what was wrong, and Bote replied, "There’s a bomb. There’s a bomb.” He was shaking as he clutched the backpack, the affidavit said. Later, crew members took Bote’s backpack from him.
"The guy across the aisle from me pulled the flight attendant to the side and told her that he had a bomb in his backpack," passenger Nick Danneberger told 7NEWS when the plane landed.
After Bote allegedly indicated to the flight attendant he had a bomb in his carry-on bag, flight attendants informed the captain, the affidavit said. 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 Bote was not well, the affidavit said.
The FBI agents' investigation 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, the affidavit said.
After Bote's arrest, 7NEWS reporter Marshall Zelinger confirmed the man was held in federal custody at Denver Health Medical Center on Monday night.
During his Tuesday court appearance, Bote was wearing a navy T-shirt with the words "Church Building" on the back.
Assistant U.S. Attorney James Allison notified U.S. Magistrate Judge Craig B. Shaffer that prosecutors will be asking that Bote will be held without bond until his case is resolved.
A judge will determine whether or not Bote will be released from custody during a Thursday detention hearing. At that time, the judge will conduct a preliminary hearing to determine if there is probable cause that the defendant committed the crimes. Until then, Bote will remain in federal custody.
Shaffer determined Tuesday that Bote could not afford his own defense attorney and ordered that the court provide an attorney to the defendant at no cost.
If convicted of false information and threats, Bote faces a maximum five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.