NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A terminal was partially evacuated and flights were disrupted at LaGuardia Airport Saturday morning, after a man allegedly said there was a bomb in his luggage during a quarrel with airline staffers.
Sources told 1010 WINS a 70-year-old man — identified as John Park of the Detroit suburb of Farmington, Michigan — had a quarrel with a Spirit Airlines employee about having to pay $50 to check a bag at check-in.
He allegedly put his bag on the counter and said, “You keep it, and there’s a bomb in it,” and walked away.
The NYPD Bomb Squad was called, and everything came to a halt.
As police investigated, flights from Terminal B were disrupted and concourses A and B in the terminal were shut down, according to the airport. The security checkpoints and pre-security areas for the concourses were evacuated, sources told 1010 WINS.
Arnie Zabinsky of Glen Cove, Long Island, told 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria there were police officers everywhere.
“Police with M-16s – they were all very accommodating,” he said.
A man named Michael was forced to miss his plane to Dallas as he stood in one spot for two hours.
“I appreciate them, you know, to make sure, you know, we’re all safe,” he said. “So we’re all inconvenienced, but I understand why they had to do it,” he said.
During the evacuation, traffic stood still on the Grand Central Parkway as people ditched cars and cabs with luggage to make it on foot — as vehicles could not get into the airport, WCBS 880’s Myles Miller reported.
“Crazy at Terminal B,” one woman said.
“Look at that. Look at that! We’re walking all the way to the airport,” another added.
“We were over at the D terminal,” a man said. “Just trying to work our way over.”
People who had just landed at the airport also had trouble finding cabs.
“They’re not letting anything happen,” said another man.
The terminal was clear and back to normal by 9:25 a.m., police said.
“That’s why you get there early,” one of the men added.
Spirit Airlines declined to comment Saturday afternoon, saying, “Any questions regarding this incident should be directed to law enforcement.”
“I think the person needs a lot of help,” Zabinsky said.
Defendant Park was expected to be arraigned later Saturday.