Suspect charged in Texas airport explosives case
Monday, January 2, 2012
MIDLAND, Texas (AP) — Authorities have charged a member of the U.S. military who was arrested after trying to go through a security checkpoint at a Texas airport with explosives in military-grade wrapping, the FBI said Sunday.
Trey Scott Atwater, 30, was stopped at security at the Midland International Airport about 9 a.m. Saturday. FBI spokesman Mike Martinez said Atwater is being held at the Midland County jail and has been charged with trying to bring explosives onto an airplane.
He will remain in custody at least until his arraignment Tuesday, given that the courts are closed Monday for the holiday, Martinez said.
Atwater and his wife and family had been visiting relatives in the area and were on their way back to his base in North Carolina, according to local media reports.
Public records searches list addresses for Atwater at Fort Bragg and indicate he continues to have relatives in Midland, though there was no answer at phone numbers given in both locations. He had a reservation on Flight 3283 operated by American Eagle, which had a scheduled departure of 9:45 a.m. Saturday.
It's unclear whether Atwater was in military uniform at the time he was detained, or how many explosives were in the bag.
City of Midland spokeswoman Tasa Watts said Saturday that she had no information on the suspect, but confirmed the explosives were in military-grade wrapping. She said the specific grade wouldn't be known until the explosives were tested.
The Transportation Security Administration issued a statement saying one of its officers spotted a suspicious item in a carry-on bag during X-ray screening. The agency said the checkpoint was closed for about an hour while officers investigated and removed the item.
Watts said Atwater was entering a terminal when he was stopped, and a sweep was done to clear that terminal before normal operations resumed.
Court records show Atwater pleaded guilty in February 2002 in North Carolina to misdemeanor possession of a container of wine, liquor or beer by an unauthorized person, and to drinking beer/wine while driving.
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