A man who was too afraid to fly due to the pandemic lived undetected in a secure area of Chicago’s international airport for three months, US prosecutors say.
Aditya Singh, 36, was arrested on Saturday after O’Hare International Airport staff asked him to produce his identification. He showed them a badge, but it allegedly belonged to an operations manager who had reported it missing in October.
Police say Singh lives in a suburb of Los Angeles and arrived on a flight from there on Oct 19. It is not clear why he was in Chicago.
He was “scared to go home due to Covid”, State Attorney Kathleen Hagerty said, according to the Chicago Tribune.
He managed to live in the terminal on handouts from other passengers, she told Cook county judge Susana Ortiz, who expressed surprise at the circumstances of the case.
“You’re telling me that an unauthorised, non-employee was allegedly living within a secure part of the O’Hare airport terminal from Oct 19, 2020 to Jan 16, 2021 and was not detected?” she said to Hagerty on Sunday.
“The court finds these facts and circumstances quite shocking for the alleged period of time that this occurred,” Ortiz said.
Singh does not have a criminal record, according to the public defender.
He has been charged with felony criminal trespass to a restricted area of an airport and misdemeanour theft.
Ortiz concluded, “Based upon the need for airports to be absolutely secure so that people feel safe to travel, I find those alleged actions do make him a danger to the community.”
If he is able to post US$1,000 bail, Singh will be released from jail but barred from entering the airport
The Chicago Department of Aviation, which oversees the city’s airports, said in a statement: “While this incident remains under investigation, we have been able to determine that this gentleman did not pose a security risk to the airport or to the travelling public.”