Police say an unattended bag that led security officials to temporarily close part of Cleveland Hopkins International Airport was just a guitar case left behind by a man who couldn't afford the luggage fee for it.
A police spokeswoman tells Cleveland.com that prosecutors will decide whether to pursue any charges against the 45-year-old man from Taberg, N.Y., over the bag abandoned Tuesday in a check-in area.
Robert Kennedy, the director of the airport, tells WEWS-TV that the case was found at about 2 p.m. local time on the sidewalk outside the ticketing area. The TSA and Cleveland police were notified of the suspicious baggage, and a K9 unit was brought in to inspect the bag, reports the site.
Despite the dog smelling “something suspicious,” a subsequent x-ray and physical examination of the case determined that its contents posed no danger to travelers.
However, by this time — roughly 4 p.m. — the commotion caused by the guitar case had already grounded several passengers at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. The Associated Press reported that other passengers were re-routed into safety zones, away from the area where the bag was found, while flights continued taking off and landing.
Still, Kennedy insisted it was necessary to follow the correct safety protocols.
“Today’s demonstration of a bag handler notifying TSA, notifying Cleveland Police Department is evidence of how that works,” he told WEWS-TV.
As for the 45-year-old man who abandoned his guitar case, he was questioned and allowed to board his flight home after investigators determined there was no safety threat.
The man also told WEWS-TV that he was sorry, and that he didn't realize his role in the incident until it was over and he was questioned.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.