February 15, 1997 in Nation/World

Airport Evacuated In Search For Gun

Compiled From Wire Services

A bag that a guard thought might have a gun inside got past a security gate at Orlando International Airport Friday, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of passengers for three hours and delaying 58 flights.

A guard noticed what looked like a handgun inside the bag as it passed through an X-ray machine, but the bag and its owner disappeared before the guard could search it, said E. W. “Bill” Jennings, deputy executive director of the airport.

Two-thirds of the airport’s gate areas were evacuated and authorities checked the areas but found nothing suspicious.

Passengers then had to go through security gates again with their luggage, police said. Neither the suspicious bag or its owner was found.

“Everything worked the way it was supposed to work,” Jennings said. “There was no breach of security.”

Some passengers put the delay in perspective.

“It’s better to be safe and late than dead,” said Sherrie Ventura, of Lubbock, Texas, who was standing in line at a security checkpoint 15 minutes after her flight to Dallas was scheduled to depart.

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