Suspect in Harry Reid airport chaos said he ‘couldn’t wait’ to leave Las Vegas, police say
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - The man accused of causing chaos at Harry Reid International Airport, leading to delays and canceled flights, said he “couldn’t wait” to leave Las Vegas, according to an arrest report.
Stefan Hutchison is accused of violating airport conduct, resisting arrest and burglary in separate incidents at the airport on Aug. 13 and Aug. 14. The second incident led to massive flight delays as hundreds of passengers were re-screened through the Transportation Security Administration checkpoint throughout the day. The passengers fled through security unchecked after they heard loud noises that sounded like gunshots, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police said.
The first incident happened around 8:35 a.m. Aug. 13. An LVMPD officer was flagged down by a TSA agent after a person reportedly breached the security checkpoint. An unknown white male was seen walking past two TSA agents at screening and continued to walk toward B-gates terminal.
“He then ran around the center of the room six times and entered the Hudson News store,” LVMPD said in an arrest report. The man reportedly walked out with a pair of sunglasses valued at $170 without paying, the report said.
The suspect didn’t acknowledge verbal commands to stop when he was spotted and resisted arrest, LVMPD said. Police said the man, later identified as Hutchison, was sweating profusely, yelling and didn’t comply with commands.
TSA agents said they tried to stop Hutchison multiple times, even standing in front of him and making a “stop” motion with their hands, but Hutchison didn’t comply and just walked through anyway, LVMPD said in the report. Then TSA pressed the alarm button to notify of a breached subject.
On Aug. 14 at about 4:34 a.m., an officer was monitoring the Terminal 1 A/B gate checkpoint area. The officer said it was “extremely busy” with “thousands” of travelers passing through.
The officer said he heard about ten “loud banging sounds” coming from the first level ticketing area. The officer said he couldn’t immediately identify what made the noises.
“Immediately after the bangs, I notice hundreds of frightened citizens fleeing from the TSA A/B checkpoint,” the LVMPD officer said in the arrest report. The officer said hundreds fled through security without screening.
The officer then went toward the loud noises in the ticketing area. The officer said “citizens were trampling over each other attempting to escape” the Delta and Spirit ticketing area, the report said.
The officer said he was flagged down by a Spirit Airlines employee who told him that a man had pushed past employees through a door to the secured area of the terminal. The officer found the man being held down by three Spirit Airlines employees and took him into custody.
The officer then identified the suspect as Hutchison, the same person involved in the incident the day prior, the report said.
The officer said the loud bangs in the ticketing area were line dividers falling on the floor as citizens were escaping the area, the report said.
The arrest report noted that two Spirit Airlines employees were taken to the hospital to treat injuries.
In interview with police, LVMPD asked why Hutchison caused the disturbance and he wouldn’t answer questions until in the holding room, the report said.
Hutchison said he arrived in Las Vegas on Aug. 12 “and that he was ready to go back home as soon as possible,” the arrest report said. Hutchison had a flight scheduled for Aug. 15 “but couldn’t wait,” the report said. Police said he wouldn’t give further explanation.
“Due to hundreds of citizens that rushed through the checkpoints prior to being cleared, all passengers at A, B, C and part of D gates were evacuated to be re-screened,” LVMPD said.
Hutchison is expected to appear in court Wednesday.
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