La Guardia Airport, New York Returns to Normal After Bomb Threat

LaGuardia Airport reopened at 9 a.m. Saturday after a man with a fake bomb hidden in a bag tried to board a flight three hours earlier in the central terminal.

The early morning scare forced the hurried evacuation of thousands of passengers onto the roadways and creating a snarling domino effect of traffic that crippled operations on one of the bigger travel days of the summer.

As the sun rose, streams of people spilled out of the airport and onto the nearby ramps for motorists. Limousine drivers were staying parked at the airport to pick up waiting passengers, creating a snarl of traffic around the airport that cascaded onto the Grand Central Parkway. Vans bringing flight crews were being delayed by the motorist traffic, setting off further flight delays.

The disruption came after extensive weather-related problems at LaGuardia canceled flights Friday, causing passengers to scramble.

At 5:30 a.m. on Saturday, Scott McGann, 32, of Queens, was apparently intoxicated when he walked into Terminal C, the authorities said. He had not yet gone through security as security officials noticed that he started acting irrational, and separated him from his bag.

Officials quickly discovered that the device in the man’s bag was not dangerous, law enforcement officials said: It was a set of batteries and wires attached to what looked like an electrical power strip with a toggle.

Mr. McGann was taken into custody.

“The guy is collared and the bomb is not a bomb,” said John Kelly, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. “I don’t know what he said. I don’t know what precipitated his arrest.”

Federal Transportation Security Administration agents then notified Port Authority officers — who patrol the airport in northern Queens — and those officers, in turn, contacted the New York Police Department.

Investigators from the police bomb squad arrived and examined the device, officials said.

“It’s a hoax device,” said the law enforcement official who was granted anonymity because the inquiry was still ongoing.

The official said Mr. McGann had a boarding pass for United Airlines Flight 667 to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. From there, he was scheduled to board Flight 675 to Denver, and then Flight 561 to Oakland, Calif., the official said.

As morning wore on, the investigation was continuing, and a motive for the apparent ruse was not immediately disclosed — but the law enforcement official said the man appeared “highly intoxicated.”

Mr. Kelly, the spokesman for the authority, said the main terminal was open.

“Concourse A, B and D is all open,” he said.

He said that that Concourse C, which serves United, United Express and American Eagle, would remain closed indefinitely so the investigation could continue. “That’s a crime scene,” he said. “It remains closed.”

Source: The New York Times

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