It was a drill, but the trouble was no one had told the cops, who thought it was real.
"I think a lot of people were alarmed," Patrick Hogan, spokesman for the Metropolitan Airport Commission, said of last week's incident. "There is always a danger that someone could have gotten hurt. It was unfortunate."
The routine drill conducted by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) began about 2:40 p.m. last Thursday, when a man with a fake bomb in his bag attempted to get through the security at checkpoint 2, which is near the United, American and U.S. Airways airlines ticketing counters, Hogan said. The screener identified what looked to be an explosive device and immediately notified authorities.
The police quickly evacuated the ticketing area and mall area, and with their guns drawn, confronted the man, Hogan said.
Within seconds, TSA officials notified police that the bomb was fake and the incident was merely a drill to test the response of screeners and the communication system. For security reasons, Hogan declined to say how many officers responded to the incident.
TSA spokeswoman Carrie Harmon said the agency routinely conducts thousands of covert tests each year at airports across the country. Last week's test at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport ended up being a little too real because of "miscommunication" between the TSA and police, she said.
"TSA continues to review this incident but took immediate steps to ensure the correct procedures will be followed in the future," Harmon said.
Mary Lynn Smith • 612-673-4788