A boy scout's toy grenade caused a bomb scare and mass evacuation at Houston's Hobby airport. (Photo: iStock)
A toy grenade in a passenger's, reportedly a 17-year-old boy scout, bag forced the shutdown of a security checkpoint at Houston's William P Hobby Airport on Thursday morning, just a day after the international terminal of the city's other major airport was evacuated due to a bomb scare.
Houston Airport System spokesman Bill Begley said people were allowed to approach the checkpoint again after a bomb squad determined that the suspicious item spotted by a Transportation Security Administration agent was a 'novelty grenade'.
Houston police said the state won't charge the teen but that he could face a federal fine.
Hobby Airport is a hub for Southwest Airlines. The website FlightAware indicated delays of an hour or more for flights arriving and departing the airport immediately after the security checkpoint reopened.
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An Associated Press journalist was in the line when a TSA agent raised the alarm at about 04:35, forcing hundreds of people to move away from the immediate area on both sides of the security checkpoint.
"My wife and I were waiting to drop our bags into the X-ray machine and go through the detector, and I heard a TSA agent scream 'Shut it down, shut it down, shut it down!' Everyone was looking around, confused, and people were ordered to 'Clear out now!'" the AP's John L Mone said.
The explosives scare occurred only a day after police detained "an impatient passenger" who made comments about explosives in a bag at Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport. Begley said that unidentified passenger's "inappropriate comment" prompted a bomb squad to close the international terminal for nearly an hour.
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The episode created a backlog of at least a thousand people waiting to go through security.
Begley stressed that, especially during the busy summer travel season, anyone with any doubts as to what can be carried on a plane should check the TSA's "what can I bring?" website before packing their bags.
People wait outside Houston's William P Hobby Airport on Thursday, June 7, 2018. (Photo: John L Mone / AP)