KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – Suspicious items were found in the carry-on luggage of a former New York City police officer trying to get through security at Kansas City’s main airport, and he was detained after refusing to allow authorities to examine the bag, a local official told The Associated Press.
The items, detected by security screeners Sunday morning, later tested negative for explosives, airline and law enforcement officials said.
The man had worked for NYPD for a short period more than a decade ago, according to the local official who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to share the details with the media.
The man was stopped about 9:30 a.m. Sunday, the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, at the Southwest Airlines checkpoint at Kansas City International Airport. Transportation security agents who detected suspicious items in his bag asked to examine them, and he was detained when he refused, airline and law enforcement officials said.
The items tested negative for explosive materials, according to a statement from the Transportation Security Administration. A bomb squad and bomb-sniffing dogs remained on the scene Sunday afternoon, and passengers were being rescreened.
FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton declined to say what the man was carrying, but she said the bomb squad used a high-pressure water force to disrupt the package, allowing for evidence to be preserved.
The man was in the custody of airport security, she said. TSA officials released a statement confirming the area around the checkpoint was evacuated “out of an abundance of caution.” Several TSA officials did not respond to calls requesting more details Sunday. Laura Brown, spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration, referred questions to the TSA.
“It was chaos,” said Jim Johnston, 56, an engineer from Portland, Ore., who was on his way to Nashville, Tenn., for business. “We weren’t told anything except there was a scare. They took us to a concourse that was under construction and we waited there 10 to 15 minutes while they tried to figure out what they were going to do with us.”
The man was detained as ceremonies were going on nationwide in remembrance of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Early indications were that the incident did not appear to be connected to terrorism, but the investigation was continuing and there had been no official determination, according to a law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing probe.
The parking lot for the terminal where Southwest is located and portions of the terminal were temporarily closed but reopened Sunday afternoon, Patton said. Passengers at the busy airport had been rerouted through one security checkpoint, creating long lines and worries among some that they would miss their flights. Other than delays caused by closing the checkpoint for a few hours, no flights were affected, Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz said.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.