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Breaking News

Security Breach Backs Up Flights at Charlotte, N.C. Airport

Aired November 21, 2000 - 10:32 a.m. ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: We actually have breaking news, Leon. Are we going to cut into this Charlotte station? OK, here we go. We are going to bring you some live pictures right now from Charlotte, North Carolina.

This is Charlotte Douglas International Airport. What we are being told is that it's being evacuated and all of the passengers are being rescreened after a security breach at a check point. This is all just coming in right now from the Federal Aviation Administration. A spokesperson has been telling us this.

Evidently a screener at a checkpoint reported seeing something resembling a weapon in a passenger's bag, but before she could intervene, the traveler grabbed the bag and ran onto the concourse.

Here is the pictures once again. This is the concourse. It is not live, This is tape that we have of the airport, Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

OK, the area was evacuated and in being swept now by airport authorities to make sure that it's clear of weapons. We are told that it's impossible to know on which airline the passenger was booked. All we do know here at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport is being evacuated and passengers are all being rescreened because of a security breech at a checkpoint.

HARRIS: If that airport is set up like most other airports, you have to go through some sort of a metal detector where you slide your bags through the X-ray machine, and then you walk through a metal detector, and you know you do all of that before you get to the gate. And if this breach happened at that initial checkpoint that would explain why they can't identify which airline this person might have been flying to.

These, I assume, are still live pictures we are getting from our affiliate WCNC.

PHILLIPS: OK, and it says here that the traveler grabbed the bag and ran onto the concourse. I am trying to find out other information that we have here.

HARRIS: From the pictures, it looks as though the folks there are remaining calm. It doesn't appear to be a situation where folks are panicked and there is any emergency being caused by any stampedes or anything of that nature. So at least they do -- people seem to be somewhat under control and authorities do have things in hand in that regard, but that also is probably going to complicate the matter of searching through everyone to get to the person who actually grabbed that person and ran.

PHILLIPS: And I guess that they have been were grabbing people who are already beyond that security point and asking them to come back and go through the checkpoint again.

We will continue to follow up. You want to keep going?

HARRIS: All right, let's see if we can get some more pictures. I can't find any more information about this on the wires here, either.

PHILLIPS: All right. While you check the wires, I will continue with what we do have, Leon. Once again, this is Charlotte Douglas International Airport. It is being evacuated right now after a security breach. What we are told is that passengers right now are being rescreened because at a checkpoint, evidently, one of the screeners at a checkpoint reported seeing something resembling a weapon in a passenger's bag. But before she could intervene, the traveler just grabbed the bag and ran on to the concourse.

HARRIS: As a understand it. Is this Greta Van Susteren that is on our -- our very own Greta Van Susteren is at that airport. And we have her on the phone, now -- Greta.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Hello, Leon. Actually it was quite interesting. We landed on a flight at 8:30 and they wouldn't let us pull up to the terminal. Instead they held us out on the tarmac for about two hours. It was like a parking lot out there. They wouldn't let any planes near the terminal, as we are told.

Our pilot actually was quite helpful. He came out and kept telling us what was going on. He told us that there has been a, quote, "security breach" and that they were going to hand search the airlines that were lucky enough to -- I say sarcastically -- be at the gate at the time.

But they have finally just started to release the planes. They are pulling up to the terminal. Ours was one of the first to pull up luckily, but Roger will be doing "BURDEN OF PROOF" alone today.

HARRIS: We are glad you will be able to join him tomorrow at least.

VAN SUSTEREN: I hope, incidentally this is the other thing, for all the frustration, you know, there are so many travelers, this is Thanksgiving weekend, or the beginning of the holidays, is our flight. My connecting flight was canceled and we are on the next flight. I think that other travelers are going to have the same problem.

HARRIS: So that means you're going to be there for sometime.

VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, now I am moving to North Carolina, from Florida to North Carolina.

PHILLIPS: She was in Florida for many of days. Now we are hoping to get you out of Charlotte.

VAN SUSTEREN: That is right.

HARRIS: Now, listen, it's about 37 minutes after the hour now. Did the pilot give you an idea about exactly what time this happened or when it happened?

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, all we were told on the plane, and I talked to the pilot, because it was rather dull for two hours on the tarmac, the pilot said the only thing he could tell us was that they had a security breach. They thought someone had a gun in a bag. He was not able to confirm it. He was only getting it on the radio that the person had somehow slipped through security, and had then blended in with the crowd. That was the problem is that they couldn't find him because he blended in with the crowd. He also thought that the person might have fled.

But our reports are so sketchy because he had very little information on the tarmac. They couldn't bring the plane up to the terminal.

HARRIS: Where are you right now?

VAN SUSTEREN: I just got into the terminal. I am looking at the board to see what my options are. I have a flight at about noon, I think.

PHILLIPS: Greta, there were reports that this passenger grabbed the bag and ran out into the concourse. Did you see any kind of activity or is everybody pretty calm, what you observed. Has everyone been pretty calm?

VAN SUSTEREN: As I look around the terminal now..,


VAN SUSTEREN: ... You don't get a lot of information. People don't, they just look like they're going to the business as usual. And other than that, it's crowded, but you know you would expect it to be crowded. It's the Thanksgiving holiday.

HARRIS: All right, Greta, look, your phone is starting to crap out a little bit, you might be losing some battery juice. We are going to let you go try to find a flight and get on home. Please be careful, get home safely in one piece.

That is our very own Greta Van Susteren, who happened to be right in the middle of some breaking news today as she was making a connecting flight there in Charlotte, North Carolina.

And again, the word is that there was a security breach there at the airport. Someone apparently was grabbing what appeared to be a gun out of a bag and shoved it back in the bag, and somehow breached the security at the initial checkpoint there, and the airport was then shutdown, and authorities now are looking for that person.

PHILLIPS: Meanwhile going through and rechecking all of the passengers who were in the area. And of course not letting any of the planes takeoff or any of the planes land as they continue to sweep the entire area.

HARRIS: Oh, boy. How would you like to be Greta Van Susteren now? Two weeks in Florida and now this. Greta, travel safely.

PHILLIPS: She is earning her paycheck, double fold.



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