Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Stewart International Airport (KSWF) evacuated after souvenir grenade discovered

State Police and federal Transportation Security Administration officials investigated an incident at Stewart International Airport in New Windsor that resulted in an evacuation of the terminal when a suspicious object was found in baggage.

A passenger had something in a bag that concerned officials. State police said it was a souvenir grenade.

A spokesman for the Port Authority said the passenger terminal was evacuated at 10:49 a.m. today. The airport was expected to re-open for passenger service at 12:15 p.m, troopers said.

State Police spokesman Trooper Steven Nevel said police received a report at 10:13 a.m. that an "inert" grenade in a passenger's luggage was found going through the conveyor belt. It appears to be a a souvenir-type grenade, Nevel said.

As a precaution, troopers brought in their bomb disposal unit to remove the device.

"Investigation revealed that this was not of malicious intent and no criminal charges will be filed," a statement from police said.

The TSA said an officer running the X-ray machine saw an image of a hand grenade on the monitor. The checkpoint was closed. State troopers based at the airport were called and they brought in the bomb squad.

"Out of an abundance of caution, the state police evacuated the airport to include passengers, airport employees and TSA personnel until the bomb squad could clear the item. Police left with the item in a special container for explosives. The airport reopened at 12:09 p.m.," said Lisa Farbstein, spokeswoman for the TSA.

The TSA is the agency that checks passengers and baggage that goes aboard airline flights. Stewart has service by four airlines.

The state police have a detachment based at Stewart to provide security.

Joe Pentangelo of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said the TSA notified them that they were OK with resuming the movement of passengers through their checkpoint.

"Grenades, even inert ones, are prohibited from being brought in carry-on or checked baggage because explosive materials and realistic replicas of explosives are not permitted," she said.

"Passengers are responsible for the contents of bags they bring to the security checkpoint, and TSA’s advice to passengers is to look through bags thoroughly before coming to the airport to make sure there are no illegal or prohibited items," she said.

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