'Bomb in Bag' Joke No Laughing Matter at Rochester Airport

bomb threat rochester airport

JKruggel, Wikimedia Commons

Greater Rochester International Airport in New York was shut down for about three hours Saturday morning after a customer joked about having a bomb in one of his bags to a JetBlue ticket agent.

Francesco Pagano, 32, of Sicily, has since been charged with falsely reporting an incident – a second-degree felony, reports Rochester's Democrat and Chronicle.

The Monroe County Sheriff's Office says Pagano was attempting to purchase a ticket inside the airport around 6:15 a.m. on Saturday when he made the "bomb in bag" comment. According to reports, officials were concerned because he had arrived without a reservation, requested a layover at JFK International Airport in New York City, and had one bag with him while he left two others near the rental car area.

John McCaffrey, federal security director with the Transportation Security Administration, tells the news outlet another concern was that Pagano was "stoic" while authorities interviewed him, but did not elaborate.

Airport Director Susan Walsh says Pagano's bags were taken in a secure vehicle to be X-rayed and bomb-sniffing dogs were brought in to check airport terminals.

Walsh says four departing flights were delayed during the incident, but no arrivals were diverted.

The airport was locked down until about 9:30 a.m., Walsh says. No explosives were found.

According to officials, Pagano later told deputies that he was joking.

"We have to make a determination that the threat is real until we can unfound it," says McCaffrey. "The guy made stupid comments. We can't un-ring that bell."

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