KANSAS CITY, Missouri – A former New York City police officer was detained Sunday at Kansas City's main airport after security screeners detected suspicious items inside his carry-on luggage, a local official with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press.
The official, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to share the details with the media, said the man had worked for NYPD for a short period more than a decade ago. The security scare happened Sunday morning on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The man was stopped about 9:30 a.m. at the Southwest Airlines checkpoint at Kansas City International Airport. Transportation security agents who detected suspicious items in his bag asked to examine them, and he was detained when he refused, airline and law enforcement officials said.
The suspicious items tested negative for explosive materials, according to a statement from the Transportation Security Administration. A bomb squad and bomb-sniffing dogs remained on the scene Sunday afternoon, and passengers were being rescreened.
FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton declined to say what the man was carrying, but she said the bomb squad used a high-pressure water force to disrupt the package, allowing for evidence to be preserved.
The man was the custody of airport security, she said.
TSA released a statement confirming the area around the checkpoint was evacuated "out of an abundance of caution." Several TSA officials did not respond to calls requesting more details Sunday. Laura Brown, spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration, referred questions to the TSA.
"It was chaos," said Jim Johnston, 56, an engineer from Portland, Ore., who was on his way to Nashville, Tenn., for business. "We weren't told anything except there was a scare. They took us to a concourse that was under construction and we waited there 10 to 15 minutes while they tried to figure out what they were going to do with us."
The man was detained as ceremonies were going on nationwide in remembrance of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Four planes hijacked by nineteen men crashed into the World Trade Center, Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania, killing nearly 3,000 people.
Early indications were that the incident did not appear to be connected to terrorism, but the investigation was continuing and there had been no official determination, according to a law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing probe.
The parking lot for the terminal where Southwest is located and portions of the terminal that were closed reopened Sunday afternoon, Patton said. Passengers at the busy airport had been rerouted through one security checkpoint, creating long lines and worries among some that they would miss their flights.
Other than delays caused by closing the checkpoint for a few hours, no flights were affected, Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz said.