July 22, 2008

Empty Grenades Spur Evacuation at Airport

By Brandie Jefferson

Part of the terminal at T.F. Green is evacuated for about 40 minutes while a pair of dummy grenades is examined.

A section of the terminal at T.F. Green Airport was evacuated Sunday when two grenades were spotted in luggage.

The grenades were inert with no explosive materials, according to David Hayden, who is both chief of the airport police and a lieutenant in the Rhode Island State Police.

The incident started at about 3:30 p.m. when Clint B. Damm, 28, of Henderson, Nev., checked in with Southwest Airlines, according to Hayden.

Damm said he had told an airline official that he had two "toy hand grenades," although, Hayden said, "There is some question of what he actually said."

When Damm went to check the bags at the security checkpoint, he did not tell screeners what was in the luggage, according to Hayden. Hayden said the grenades were real, but with the explosive materials removed.

"For all intents and purposes, it has everything that a real grenade would have," including a coating that is impenetrable by x- rays, Hayden said.

When the x-ray scanner could not penetrate the two objects, the system went on lockdown, and nothing could get out of the scanner -- not the inert grenades, nor the receipt that Damm said could show they were novelty items, Hayden said.

"The machine doesn't tell us that it's not a real explosive," Hayden said. "Prior to the material being removed, it is a real explosive."

Everyone in the airport who had not passed through security was evacuated, awaiting the fire marshal and a Warwick police bomb specialist. People who had already passed through security were allowed to stay inside, although some planes were delayed as they waited for the evacuated people to return.

After officials cleared the two grenades and removed them from Damm's luggage, passengers were able to return. The evacuation lasted for about 40 minutes. Airport police seized the two grenades.

The Transportation Security Administration is investigating and will determine whether to charge Damm. [email protected] / (401) 277-7504

Originally published by Brandie Jefferson, Projo.com staff writer.

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