An explosive device was discovered in a checked bag on Monday at eastern Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley International Airport. The suspect, 40-year-old Mark Muffley, was set to fly on Allegiant to Orlando Sanford International Airport.
ABC News reported that a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent detected a suspicious object hidden in the lining of Muffley’s checked bag shortly after 11 a.m.
Authorities in a statement said the device was found during “routine screening” as the luggage triggered an alarm as it was moving through the baggage screening unit.
The TSA said the officer “located an item inside the suitcase that appeared to be suspicious and was believed to possibly be a live explosive device.”
Officials described the device as circular and three inches in diameter. It allegedly had two fuses and a powdery substance wrapped in wax paper and plastic wrap.
I'm so glad they got this guy. He had a bomb plus other explosives in a bag. Good job @TSA.
Explosive found in checked luggage at Pennsylvania airport, man in custody – ABC News via @ABC – https://t.co/Fy2tX14yFq
— Mo Ray (@mo2dmax) March 1, 2023
The outlet said that authorities believe the powder was “a mixture of flash powder and the dark granulars used in commercial grade fireworks.” According to the criminal complaint, the powders may ignite through heat and friction “and posed a significant risk to the aircraft and passengers.”
The complaint further alleged that the suspect’s bag held a can of butane, a lighter, a pipe containing white powder residue, a cordless drill with batteries, “and two GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlets taped together with black tape.”
Part of the airport was immediately locked down and Muffley was paged over the airport’s public address system. Officials spotted him through surveillance video allegedly attempting to flee the airport five minutes later.
The FBI and bomb technicians analyzed the object and confirmed that it “was indeed a live explosive device,” according to ABC News. However, the outlet also cited sources as saying it was not operational and not constructed to explode in flight.
The closed section of the airport was reopened just before 2 p.m. after the package was removed.
Muffley was taken into custody at his home that evening and charged with “possession of an explosive device in an airport and possessing, or attempting to place or attempting to have placed an explosive or incendiary device on an aircraft.”