Stop! Do not enter! That was the message airport security tried to deliver to a person trying to charge his way through the Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport (SJU) checkpoint central.
Lead TSA Officer Carlos Rosario, stationed at the Travel Document Checker (TDC) podium, spotted a man rushing to enter the checkpoint through the wheelchair lane instead of approaching the TDC with a ticket and boarding pass.
“I immediately reacted by placing the Plexiglas barrier by the TDC podiums in an attempt to block his way into the checkpoint,” said Rosario.
The intruder was so determined to enter the checkpoint, he managed to go around the TDC podium and made his way into the screening area between two lanes.
“When I saw the individual gain access to the checkpoint through the automated threat recognition (ATR) area between lanes seven and eight, I immediately called a code red,” recalled Rosario.
Lead TSA Officer Livey Sloan noticed the disturbance from two lanes over, and when he heard Rosario call out code red, he ran towards the lanes to help stop the man.
“I stood in front of the ATR stanchions facing the individual and used my own body weight to move him back and blocked him from further entry,” remembered Sloan.
Supervisory TSA Officer Ivette Medina, who was in charge of the operations that day, said, “Alertness of our surroundings combined with the individual experience gained over the years serving with TSA was a key factor on we individually reacted.”
The man dropped his belongings, and while attempting to retrieve them, local Puerto Rico law enforcement arrived to take control of the situation. However, the struggle continued.
“The person attempted to pass me again. I reacted quickly to assist by again using my body as a physical barrier and was able to block him until the Puerto Rico Police Department (LEO) and local airport security were able to resolve the situation,” explained Sloan.
Medina said, “It was a team effort to protect passengers and officers, based on our different backgrounds and expertise. I think it was beautifully managed. Everyone was safe, and without affecting any further airport operation, the breach was contained.”
TSA’s SJU Deputy Assistant Federal Security Director Kimberly Carter summed it up nicely adding, “Great situational awareness and dedication to the mission. I am proud to be on the same team."
By TeaNeisha Barker, TSA Strategic Communications & Public Affairs