August 2, 2009 in Nation/World

Bomb scare empties terminal

Stephanie Nano Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Passengers wait to catch flights as New York’s LaGuardia Airport is reopened following an evacuation after a man with a fake bomb entered the main terminal Saturday.
(Full-size photo)

NEW YORK – Air travelers at New York’s LaGuardia Airport found themselves in a mess of delays and missed connections Saturday after a bomb scare involving a homeless man.

LaGuardia’s central terminal was evacuated for several hours after the man entered the building with a fake bomb in a bag, then acted like he was trying to detonate it, police said.

The episode ended with a quick arrest, but it disrupted travel plans for thousands of people as flights were postponed and vehicle traffic to the airport was briefly halted. Delays rippled across the country as airlines adjusted their schedules.

Authorities identified the man as Scott McGann, a 32-year-old who had apparently been living on New York City’s streets for at least a year. He faces charges including placing a false bomb in a transportation facility and making terroristic threats.

The trouble began shortly after 5 a.m. when McGann arrived at the airport dirty and disheveled, but carrying a valid ticket for a United Airlines flight headed to Chicago, with connecting flights to Oakland, Calif., where he has family.

McGann immediately began attracting attention because of his appearance and behavior.

Police received two calls about an apparently intoxicated or suspicious passenger before he had even reached a security checkpoint.

Authorities stopped McGann, but he didn’t respond to questions. He then appeared to depress some sort of makeshift trigger attached to a wire, prompting Port Authority police to move in.

Officers Robert Keane and Thomas Sullivan subdued McGann and wrested his duffel bag away. A search of the bag revealed an assemblage of batteries and wires that police thought was intended to look like a bomb, Kelly said. An NYPD bomb squad used a high-powered water cannon to blow the device apart.

The terminal was evacuated at around 5:30 a.m. Investigators quickly determined that the device wasn’t dangerous, but travelers became inconvenienced as flights were postponed and traffic backed up outside.

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