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Training supplies cause Indianapolis airport evacuation

INDIANAPOLIS - Security officials evacuated a concourse at the Indianapolis International Airport Wednesday after inactive explosives inadvertently left behind by a federal employee were found at a security checkpoint.

The items, including a vest with "inert training explosives," were found in a tray on a conveyor belt at a security checkpoint leading into Concourse D, the Transportation Security Administration said.

TSA spokeswoman Lara Uselding said airport police determined that the suspect items were "components used by TSA to train its officer workforce" and that passengers were never in danger.

"A TSA training officer had used the components for training purposes overnight and then inadvertently left them at the checkpoint," Uselding said in a statement.

She said TSA staff at the Indianapolis airport were investigating how the items were left behind and reviewing procedures to prevent a repeat.

Airport spokeswoman Patzetta Trice said some 500 passengers were evacuated about 5:10 a.m. after the suspect items were found at the checkpoint.

The concourse reopened at 6:27 a.m. after airport police lifted the evacuation order, she said. The airport's three other concourses were not evacuated.

Trice said the vest was left at the checkpoint with no owner nearby.

"It was just left sitting and there was no individual associated with it," she said.

Another airport spokeswoman, Susan Sullivan, said no flights were canceled because the evacuation but that it did cause delays for several US Airways and United Airlines flights.

Explosives scare closes part of airport

A vest left by a federal security officer at the Indianapolis International Airport caused airport police to close one concourse and a security checkpoint this morning because of a suspected bomb threat, airport and Transportation Security Administration officials said.

The vest containing inert training materials was mistakenly left by the officer after overnight training, a TSA statement read.

The package contained several imitation explosives as well as wires and a battery, according to a police report. (my highlights)

An unidentified passenger found the vest this morning at the security checkpoint for concourse D. The vest was left in a pile of gray plastic bins used to send personal belongings through an X-ray machine.

The passenger alerted TSA officials, who oversee the checkpoint. Airport police evacuated and closed the checkpoint and adjoining concourse from about 5:10 to 6:30 a.m. Police then set up a perimeter for passengers while bomb experts removed the vest. The airport’s other three concourses stayed open.

The police report stated the vest contained a battery, wires, a switch, and a plastic bag containing a modeling-clay-like substance meant to resemble Semtex, a plastic explosive sometimes used in terrorist attacks. (my highlights)

The materials also included a second bag containing a small amount of liquid and a powder-filled tube, according to the report. The bag was marked with a label from a law enforcement training center in Stamford, N.Y.

The elements could not have been combined to create an explosive device, Airport Police Major Tom Hanna said. The incident still is under investigation by TSA and airport police.

Several East Coast-bound flights for United Airlines and U.S. Airways were delayed as a result of the closure, airport spokeswoman Susan Sullivan said. No flights were cancelled.

On Sept. 13, a pilot licensed to carry a handgun as part of the Federal Flight Deck Officer Program left his handgun at the Indianapolis Airport. The gun was found at the airport’s ground transportation center by a limousine driver.
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