Josh Greenberg via Twitter)
The McNamara terminal at Detroit Metro Airport was locked down for more than two hours Thursday night as authorities investigated a passenger who left a secure area and failed to repeat a security screening, officials said.
Brian Lassaline, an airport spokesman, said the passenger who was already on the secured side of the checkpoint after a screening went into the exit about 9 p.m. and “did a 180.”
The man “then turned around and went back to the secured side without returning through screening,” Lassaline said.
Airport police “quickly caught up” with the man. Meanwhile, screenings were halted and flights were grounded, Lassaline said.
Airport police and Transportation Security Administration officials questioned the passenger and swept the terminal, Lassaline said.
Another airport spokesman, Michael Conway, said authorities didn’t believe the passenger presented a further security risk but maintained the lockdown as a precaution.
Conway said the TSA reviewed video of the man and officials believe he didn’t leave any objects behind. Conway said it’s believed the man failed to comply with an order to go back through security.
The terminal was cleared to reopen about 11:15 p.m., Lassaline said.
Their journeys interrupted, stranded travelers vented their frustrations.
“Stalled en route to Philly, trapped like a rat in the Detroit airport,” one traveler wrote on Twitter. “Breaking into my survival rations: bacon and trail mix.”
One passenger reported being “Literally caged into Terminal A” due to the breach, while another posted a photo with dozens of cars lined up at the arrivals area. A third also mentioned the breach and said all planes were grounded. Another photo showed dozens of travelers stuck in place.
Shortly after 10 p.m., another person tweeted a photo featuring a crowd of travelers: “Craziness at Detroit airport as gates to release the captives go up and then back down.”
One woman posted a photo of a uniformed airport apparently searching part of the terminal.
Lassaline said he had no information on the number of passengers affected or flights delayed “but because it was late, not a lot of flights were left.”
Passengers arriving at the terminal, he said, were allowed to exit and about 40 passengers were waiting to be screened at checkpoints before the breach.