Magician's Prop Shuts Palm Beach for Two Hours

When security found a butane canister in the checked luggage of illusionist Simon Winthrop, the airport evacuated the entire first floor and part of the second, forcing at least 1,000 passengers, ticket agents and airport employees to wait outside.

"I don't really think of West Palm Beach as a terrorist target," he said.

The airport reopened for commercial flights at 11:30 a.m., with delays into the early afternoon.

The incident was similar to a scare on April 27, 2003, when investigators found a training device with wires and a flashing light in the bag of a Secret Service agent. PBIA was locked down for three hours.

Airport officials promised county commissioners after that incident that next time, the airport radio station would switch to special broadcasts so passengers worried about flights or loved ones could get updates.

But several travelers said Saturday they tuned in to the airport radio station, 1630 AM, and heard stock information about parking, with no mention of the lockdown.

Orihuela said airport employees were not able to send an update because they had to evacuate suddenly along with everyone else.

Officials from the sheriff's office, airport and FBI said they hope passengers with unusual possessions, like flame-throwing butane tanks, will anticipate attention from the TSA and declare the items in advance.

"You can't just bring this sort of a thing on a plane," Orihuela said.

Staff researcher Angelica Cortez contributed to this story.


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