LaGuardia Suspect has Bay Area Ties

Hundreds evacuated and delayed by deranged man with fake bomb

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Passengers wait on a highway overpass outside LaGuardia Airport during an evacuation Saturday, August 1, 2009 in New York. The airport was evacuated after a man entered the building with a fake bomb in a bag, police said. The device in the man's bag was a few batteries and wires, but it was not dangerous, police said.

    An emotionally disturbed man with a bag full of batteries and wires feared to be a bomb forced an early morning evacuation of hundreds of passengers at LaGuardia Airport’s main terminal Saturday, officials said. 

    Scott McGann, 32, of Manhattan, who was described as "acting crazy," was quickly arrested by authorities after he caught the attention of airport employees with his erratic behavior and suspicious luggage. Police sources said he appeared to be drunk. McGann was apparently homeless and had been living on city streets for at least a year, authorities said.

    McGann is from Willits in Mendocino County where he at time worked at one time as a comptuer consultant.

    Late Saturday, a judge ordered a psychiatric examination for the suspect, Scott McGann, a 32-year-old who had apparently been living on New York City's streets for at least a year. McGann has been arrested in the city at least three times previously in the past two years, most recently in June, authorities said. He gave prosecutors a Manhattan address that does not exist, according to city property records.

    Saturday morning a TSA employee noticed the man acting strange as he went through security screening to get on United Flight 667 to Chicago followed by connecting flights to Oakland. The TSA employee alerted Port Authority police, who spotted wires and a fuse sticking out of the bag when the man approached the travel document checker.

    "This Is Ridiculous"

    [NY] "This Is Ridiculous"
    One family talks about how frustrated they are that they got all held up because of a false alarm.

    McGann was headed for Oakland, where he is said to have family.

    Police on the scene in New York tackled the deranged suspect, while the NYPD Bomb Squad inspected the bag and evacuated the central terminal building at 5:30 a.m.

    It wasn't clear if the man made a threat, but security officials said he "was just acting crazy," New York and New Jersey Port Authority spokesman John Kelly told NBCNewyork.

    The episode ended with a quick arrest, but it disrupted travel plans for thousands of people as flights were postponed and vehicle traffic to the airport was briefly halted. Delays also rippled across the country as airlines adjusted their schedules.

    McGann "is clearly a very troubled young man,'' Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in a release.
        
    McGann's arraignment, on charges including placing a false bomb in a transportation facility and making a terrorist threat, was postponed for a mental exam to determine if is fit to stand trial. He was held without bail, pending a court appearance Thursday. An attorney who represented him in court did not immediately return a telephone call.

    Richard Bock, 59, of Gramercy Park who was traveling with his seven-year-old daughter to a wedding in Milwaukee,  told the New York Daily News that he was told to "exit the terminal and run."

    "Then I saw all the fire and police trucks coming, and we’ve been told all our flights will be delayed," he said.

    The evacuation also meant that Irma Quidore, of Denville, N.J., had to delay a trip to Monterrey, Mexico, for a second time with her two daughters, Sofia, 6, and Isabella, 3.

    They had originally planned to fly out on Thursday, but a delay that would have forced them to miss a connecting flight prompted them to reschedule their trip for Saturday, Quidore said.

    "I guess we're going to make the trip to Mexico, but a little bit late," Sofia said as she pushed her little sister in a stroller toward the terminal.

    Passengers began re-entering Concourse C -- which serves United, United Express and American Eagle airlines -- after 9 a.m. While all terminals are now open, for travelers hoping to get out of the city, the damage had already been done.

    Roughly a half-dozen United flights were delayed because of the incident at LaGuardia, airline spokesman Rahsaan Johnson said. United only serves three destinations from LaGuardia — Denver, Chicago-O'Hare and Washington-Dulles. On the arrest, Johnson said, "We are cooperating with authorities."

    Delta Air Lines Inc., the world's biggest airline operator, has a separate terminal from where the incident occurred, so planes continued to arrive and depart. But flights were still disrupted because pilots and flight attendants couldn't make it to the airport because of the traffic backup, airline spokesman Carlos Santos said.

    Discount carrier AirTran Airways canceled two flights and delayed about a dozen others due to the incident at LaGuardia, spokesman Christopher White said.

    "The planes that go to LaGuardia will be delayed the rest of the day I'm sure," he said.