Rebecca Lee McLaughlin Arraignment Delayed in Alleged Attempted Murder of Airport Officer
See Update No. 2 at the end of this post on the arraignment being delayed but bail being set at half of what prosecutors wanted. Update No. 1 is on the charges the woman driver faces and the maximum sentence with a conviction.
ORIGINAL POST, JULY 17, 3:24 P.M.: The big news out of John Wayne Airport today was supposed to be the expansion of a program that allows travelers to provide more personal information before arriving so they can get through screening more quickly. That's now overshadowed by a sheriff's deputy being released from a hospital this morning after 48-year-old Rebecca McLaughlin allegedly slammed her car into his patrol bicycle at the airport on purpose.
McLaughlin, who was booked on suspicion of attempted murder, is accused of aiming her black Toyota Sequoia at the unidentified deputy in the parking structure Tuesday and accelerating before he was knocked onto her hood, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
He managed to reach inside the Sequoia and wrestle McLaughlin out of the driver's seat, according to a department spokesman, who listed the deputy's injuries as minor and mentioned he was already released from the hospital.
As for the speedier airport check-ins, the Transportation Security Administration program known as TSA Pre allows passengers who volunteer more information about themselves before getting to the airport to get through the screening process without taking off their shoes, belts or jackets or from removing laptops from bags.
An eligible passenger has the TSA Pre status embedded in the bar code of the boarding pass that is scanned at designated airport checkpoints. The service, which had been available to nearly 80,000 travelers in Terminal A since December, was expanded to Terminal B starting today. Alaska, American, Delta, United and U.S. Airways participate in the program.
Maybe ol' Becca was pissed over having the wrong bar code and had to take it out on someone . . .
UPDATE NO. 1, JULY 18, 12:16 P.M.: In a statement on Rebecca Lee McLaughlin's scheduled arraignment in Santa Ana later today, the Orange County district attorney's office (OCDA) reveals the Newport Beach 48-year-old is charged with felony counts of attempted murder, aggravated assault and aggravated assault on a peace officer.
A conviction could send her to prison for life, adds the OCDA, which says it will seek bail of $1 million.
Here is what happened, according to prosecutors:
At approximately 10:30 p.m. on July 16, 2013, McLaughlin is accused of driving her Toyota Sequoia through a closed-lot entrance booth and breaking the barricade to enter a parking structure at JWA. The defendant is accused of driving through the parking structure before attempting to exit through the same entrance gate. An OCSD deputy, who was patrolling the area on his bicycle, rode up next to the defendant in an attempt to stop her.
The defendant is accused of stopping her full-size SUV and turning her steering wheel toward the OCSD deputy, who was standing over his bike approximately 25 feet away. McLaughlin is accused of accelerating at the victim and hitting him with her vehicle, throwing him approximately 20 feet inside the parking structure and destroying his bicycle. The defendant is accused of failing to stop and continuing to exit the parking structure before driving over an elevated curb and hitting a parking pole. The OCSD deputy, who suffered minor cuts and bruises, ran to the disabled vehicle and arrested her.
UPDATE NO. 2, JULY 18, 5:29 P.M.: McLaughlin's arraignment today was rescheduled to Aug. 2 without a plea being entered, but her bail was set at $500,000, half the amount sought by prosecutors.
It was also revealed in court that the alleged victim was a sheriff's special officer, uniformed civilians who were recently given the authority to make misdemeanor arrests, detain felony suspects and carry weapons.
According to the Orange County district attorney's office, the officer was thrown about 20 feet and his bicycle was destroyed.
The SUV McLaughlin was driving came to a stop when it jumped a curb and slammed into a parking pole, prosecutors added.
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