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April 13, 2014
Police: Aldon Smith taken into custody after claiming to have bomb at LAX

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This story was updated from an earlier version to show the charges on which Aldon Smith has been booked.

Troubled 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith was taken into custody Sunday at Los Angeles International Airport and booked on charges of making a false bomb threat. According to airport police, the incident occurred at 2 p.m. when Smith, 24, was going through security screening and said he had a bomb.

A statement from airport police reads: "At approximately 1400 hrs, a 24 year-old Aldon Jacarus Ramon Smith, a resident of San Jose, California, was going through Terminal 1 screening where he made a comment indicating that he was in possession of a bomb. Los Angeles Airport Police made contact with him in the gate area where he became uncooperative. After conducting their investigation, LA Airport Police took suspect into custody and transported him to LAPD-Pacific division where he was booked for California Penal Code 148.1(a) - False report of a bomb threat."

According to airport police Sgt. Karla Ortiz, it appeared that Smith had been drinking earlier in the day. Police, however, did not check Smith's blood-alcohol content, Ortiz said, because "it was not an issue that would affect the detention or the arrest." Still, whether Smith had been drinking is likely to be a major question for the 49ers. Smith is facing a DUI charge stemming from an incident in September. He had a hearing on Friday, and his next court date is April 29.

A witness told The Bee that trouble began brewing earlier at the Southwest Airlines ticket counter. Following an argument there, a ticket agent said that Smith would not be allowed on the plane. After going through security, the witness said Smith was approached by TSA personnel. He advanced toward his gate where he was taken into custody by five officers. A video of the incident shows an officer bringing a police dog into the vicinity of the gate as Smith is being led away in handcuffs.

The 49ers issued a statement from general manager Trent Baalke: "We are disappointed to learn of the incident today involving Aldon Smith. As this is a pending legal matter and we are still gathering the pertinent facts, we will have no further comment."

Smith has been arrested twice since 2012 for DUI and also is facing weapons charges relating to a sprawling house party that got out of control in 2012. Smith was stabbed at that party. In addition, he was involved in a rollover car crash near his home in San Jose in 2012.

Following his most recent DUI arrest in September, in which Smith was found passed out in a pickup truck that came to a stop in a residential front yard, Smith checked himself into a rehabilitation program and missed six weeks of the season.

Asked last month how Smith was doing, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said that progress was good and that he was encouraged by how Smith handled himself after returning from rehabilitation. "Thought he did a good job in all of those regards, as a player, as a teammate, decisions he was making," Harbaugh said. "Very encouraged."

Team owner Jed York last month said the team was doing everything in its power to help Smith, who set the franchise's single season sack record in 2012. "You can do so much," he said. "Somebody has to work for themselves if they're going to get through these issues. We want to be very supportive of Aldon and let him know that if he needs anything we're here for him. We want to make sure that he continues to work through this."

Sunday's incident, however, raises the possibility that Smith could be suspended by either the 49ers or the NFL, and it calls into question his future with the team. Smith is entering the final year of his contract. The 49ers could exercise a so-called fifth-year option for Smith, the seventh overall draft pick in 2011, but would have to decide on that by May 3.

If they exercise it, it would pay Smith nearly $10 million for the 2015 season. It would become fully guaranteed on the first day of the 2015 league year if he's still on the roster. The 49ers went 5-0 in the five games Smith missed last season, although four of their opponents in that stretch finished with losing records. Dan Skuta and Corey Lemonier filled in for Smith last season.

Smith's run in at the airport is only the latest in a growing and embarrassing list of police-blotter items involving 49ers players. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick and receiver Quinton Patton currently are part of an investigation involving a "suspicious incident" involving an unnamed, 25-year-old woman in Miami. Kaepernick has maintained his innocence in the affair.

Cornerback Chris Culliver on Friday was arraigned on two counts of misdemeanor hit-and-run and one count felony possession of metal knuckles after knocking over a bicyclist with his car last month. Culliver pled not guilty. The month prior to that, center Daniel Kilgore was arrested for public intoxication in Tennessee.

Two other 49ers have been arrested for DUI since 2012 while linebacker Ahmad Brooks was investigated after hitting a teammate in the head with a beer bottle last summer. Charges ultimately were not filed against Brooks.

-- Matt Barrows



MATTHEW BARROWS

Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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