Thursday, August 6, 2009

Fake Bomb at LGA Leads to Three Hour Evacuation

A Greenwich Village man brought before Queens Criminal Judge Lenora Gerald for arraignment Saturday evening has been ordered to undergo psychiatric evaluation to determine whether he is fit to stand trial.

Scott McGann, 32, is accused of causing a bomb scare at LaGuardia Airport early on Saturday morning resulting in the evacuation of thousands of early morning travelers for more than three hours. Flights were disrupted and car and pedestrian traffic at the airport built up and clogged all access roads. Would-be fliers used their cell phones to contact friends and family, advising of delays. Others just resigned themselves to the wait, stretching out on grass beds or sidewalks.

Concourse C which serves United, United Express and American Eagle, stayed closed while investigators opened a criminal investigation at the scene.

An outline of charges state that when McGann appeared at a security checkpoint at LaGuardia Airport’s Terminal B around 4:50 a.m. on Saturday morning, a United Airlines ticket agent noticed he was wearing a back pack and sweating profusely. Law enforcement officials say that he also appeared to be intoxicated.

When McGann was asked for identification, but he refused to answer questions. While talking, the agent was made aware that a suspicious package was attached to the bottom of McGann’s backpack.

Realizing what was happening, McGann allegedly reached for and grabbed what appeared to be a trigger device with a red button attached to a wire. He pressed the red button until a Port Authority police officer grabbed his hand and tackled him, removing the trigger device and grabbing the package attached to the backpack. According to published reports, the officer felt what he believed to be sticks of dynamite.

The NYPD bomb squad arrived at the scene and searched McGann’s bag with Port Authority Police. The device was actually a mock bomb made from cylinders and batteries wrapped together and taped up.

According to the boarding pass in his possession, McGann was slated to fly to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport before connecting to flights that would eventually take him to Oakland, California.

Although the main terminal was reopened shortly before 9 a.m. delays continued throughout the day. Travelers tried to get back to their terminals, many forced to carry their own bags, but were met with extended flight delays; some were rescheduled for next day flights or left to deal with stand-by status.

Two months ago, McGann was arrested following a bizarre incident. He entered the criminal courthouse at 346 Broadway in lower Manhattan and grabbed a stack of papers from a lawyer, attempting then to run from the building. He also has a 1992 arrest for bringing a gun into a high school. He moved to New York in 2006 and has been arrested several times for quality of life crimes including unauthorized vending.

DA Richard Brown said, “The defendant is clearly a very troubled young man. As a result, the Court has directed that he be examined to determine whether he has the capacity to understand the proceedings against him and assist in his defense. Pending the results of said examination, the defendant is being held without bail. His next court date is August 6, 2009.”

If convicted, McGann could face up to seven years in prison.

The Forum Newsgroup/photos by CHARLES ECKERT

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