By Wesley Muller
Interstate 10 was shut down in both directions for about 3 hours early Sunday after an Iranian national knocked a deputy to the ground and claimed his vehicle contained explosives, officials said.
Hancock County, Miss., sheriff's deputies arrested Safa Alidoust, a 32-year-old Iranian man living in Lafayette, Louisiana. He faces charges of false reporting of an explosive device associated with terroristic threats and two counts of simple assault against a law enforcement officer.
Chief Deputy Don Bass said the incident occurred about 3:30 a.m. on I-10 westbound near the Louisiana state line.
After dispatch received a call of a naked man on the side of road, the responding deputy found a shirtless man standing beside a vehicle.
When the deputy exited his squad car, Alidoust charged at the deputy, yelling in what the deputy believed to be Arabic, Bass said.
He said Alidoust tackled the deputy to the ground, injuring the deputy's head and knocking loose his radio, leaving him unable to call for assistance.
When dispatchers could not contact the deputy, they sent an additional unit to the scene, and both officers were able to subdue and detain the suspect.
While detained, the man allegedly told deputies he had a bomb in his vehicle.
The deputies then contacted Mississippi Highway Patrol, Hancock County Emergency Management Agency, Louisiana State Police and the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office to shut down the interstate and secure a perimeter of several miles. The Biloxi Police Department's bomb squad also responded, bringing bomb-sniffing dogs and X-ray equipment to the scene. No explosives were found.
EMT units transported the man and deputy to Hancock Medical Center, where both were treated for injuries and released.
Alidoust was then transported to the Hancock County jail, where he remained with no bond set as of Sunday evening.
Bass said Alidoust is an employee at a petroleum engineering company in Lafayette.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the FBI are assisting in the case.