RICHMOND, VA – The checked bag at Richmond International Airport on Saturday, October 22, triggered an alarm and needed to be pulled off of the conveyor belt so that a Transportation Security Administration officer could get a better look at what was inside. The image on the X-ray machine was very, very suspicious.
When the bag was opened, the TSA officer was shocked to see what appeared to be a suicide vest, two guns and an old military manual on incendiary devices.
TSA explosives experts raced to the checked baggage room and Richmond International Airport Police were called immediately. Fortunately, the explosives experts determined the items posed no danger. What was designed to look like a suicide vest was a prop; the guns were plastic replicas. Police tracked down the traveler at the gate and detained him for questioning by local law enforcement and the FBI. The man, a resident of Henrico County, Virginia, told officials that the items were all props intended for use in a live-action, role playing game. Very realistic props.
“The good news is that there was nothing harmful in the bag,” said TSA’s Richmond Federal Security Director Chuck Burke. “The items looked realistic by design. Bringing items to an airport that are meant to resemble items known to be used by terrorists . . . well I don’t know what the man could have been thinking would come of it.”
Burke pointed out that “the expertise of the TSA workforce and the cooperation among the responding agencies, Richmond Airport Police and the FBI, was exactly how our partnerships are meant to work.”
This incident serves as a reminder that passengers are responsible for the contents of bags they bring to the airport. TSA reserves the right to cite passengers who show up at airports with illegal weapons or disrupt the security screening process.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screens approximately 2 million passengers and their luggage every day for prohibited items, including weapons and explosives.