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    Security breach at TIA leads to lockdown, delays

    Security screeners noticed scissors in a bag - but only after the passenger had already left the checkpoint.

    © St. Petersburg Times
    published April 28, 2002

    TAMPA -- For the second time in a month, part of Tampa International Airport was put into lockdown because security screeners missed a potential weapon inside a passenger's carry-on bag.

    Three departing flights and two incoming flights were delayed at Airside C, the home of Delta Air Lines, after a passenger successfully got a pair of scissors through a security checkpoint, airport officials said.

    A security screener saw the pair of scissors inside the bag as it moved through an X-ray machine. But somehow, no action was taken until it was too late.

    "A screener saw the picture of the X-ray with a pair of scissors in it, but the bag had already been claimed. The passenger with the bag was gone," said TIA spokeswoman Brenda Geoghagan.

    It was unclear whether the delay in action was caused by the X-ray equipment or the security staffers. Airport officials were investigating.

    The security breach occurred shortly after 7:30 p.m. Once it became clear that a pair of scissors was headed for the inside of a plane, three departing flights were prevented from leaving their gates.

    "They have taken all the passengers off those flights, and they're rescreening all the passengers," Geoghagan said.

    The airport also shut down the monorail shuttle leading to Airside C so no new passengers could get into that area. And passengers on two incoming flights were kept aboard their airplanes until the situation was resolved.

    Security screeners found the pair of scissors after about an hour, airport officials said.

    "All I can say is that an object was seen. They rescreened every passenger, and the object was found," said Ken Johnson, assistant director of operations at TIA.

    A similar security breach took place at TIA on April 2, when a suspicious carry-on bag triggered the evacuation of Airside A and delayed or canceled flights for up to 3,000 passengers.

    Something in a passenger's bag that looked like a handgun on an X-ray screen caught a screener's attention, but the passenger grabbed the bag and disappeared. Aviation officials never found or identified the man.

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