Security officials at Newark Liberty International Airport are reviewing an incident in which a traveler breached a checkpoint and caused the evacuation of one of the airport's terminals.
Port Authority Police spokesman Al Della Fave said a 64-year-old British man walked past a distracted Transportation Security Administration agent Thursday afternoon, entered an exit area in Terminal B, and made it all the way to an airline gate before alerting authorities to his presence.
Airport authorities discovered the breach, according to Della Fave, after the man asked an employee at the gate's airline counter about an arriving flight. The employee realized the man was waiting for the arriving flight in an area restricted for passengers. Port Authority police were summoned and the man was detained and questioned, Della Fave said.
The man was identified as Charan Jit Singh, who told authorities he was in town for a family wedding and was at the airport to pick up another family member. He was issued a summons for criminal trespassing and released, Della Fave said. It was not known if he has an attorney.
The discovery of the breach required the terminal to be evacuated for about an hour while bomb-sniffing dogs swept the area, Della Fave said. Nothing was found. Passengers then had to be rescreened, as per security protocols, and four flights were delayed, he added.
The incident prompted an immediate review of surveillance video. Della Fave said the video showed a TSA agent distractedly giving another passenger directions to the AirTrain, a rail service that connects the airport to other rail transit systems, as Singh entered unnoticed through an exit door and proceeded past several `Do Not Enter' signs down an airport corridor.
TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said the female agent involved was immediately removed from screening duties and reassigned to administrative tasks until an investigation is completed.
In January 2010, a Newark airport terminal was shut down for several hours and flights were delayed around the globe after a Rutgers University graduate student slipped past a security checkpoint to see his girlfriend off.
Information from: The Record, http://www.northjersey.com
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