TSA Officer Michael Lombardo was operating the Computed Tomography X-ray at Huntsville International Airport when he observed an image that caught his eye. It turned out to be a Sharpie marker that was actually sharp – razor sharp.
TSA Officer Germaine Galarza observed the X-ray image and performed a bag search, finding two Sharpie markers. One turned out to be a normal marker, but the other was altered and contained a sharpened spike of fiberglass.
Thanks to Galarza’s situational awareness, the potentially dangerous item was not allowed beyond the security checkpoint. Galarza said she recently recalled reading about altered markers in a situational briefing and that’s why she checked both closely.
“I remembered an email we were sent that had a report about markers/Sharpies so I took another look, and upon further inspection one turned out to be altered,” Galarza said. It contained a full-length spike of fiberglass with a sharp tip. I called for a supervisor who responded immediately.”
The passenger voluntarily abandoned the makeshift weapon after claiming he was given the item at a trade show. Because of Galarza’s training, she was able to help prevent a potentially dangerous item from making it on an airplane.
“I take my job very seriously,” Galarza said. “I review our standard operating procedures whenever I have questions along with asking my team and supervisor. When new information is passed along to us, I read the briefs, reports and take time to look at pictures.”
So far in her TSA career, Galarza has also found a stun gun and two firearms at the checkpoint.
“It makes me feel good to know that I am part of protecting our flying public,” she said.
By Mike Frandsen, TSA Strategic Communications & Public Affairs