Officer Ricardo Perez, a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Army, swooped in and ran the bag away from travelers. "I approached it, I radioed, then I picked up to the bag and brought it to that wheelchair sign in hopes that if it did go off, some of the shock would be absorbed by the pillar". He told the news outlet that he was not sure at first what was inside, but thought it could be an "improvised-explosive device". Many passengers fled through the security checkpoints and into the terminal.
Flights were deplaned and passengers waiting at the gates were asked to go through security again, according to a statement shared by the Orlando International Airport. This monumental task was accomplished in close coordination of the TSA, Orlando Police Department, the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority and the Federal Aviation Administration. Those individuals who were asked to exit the terminal are now having to pass through security checkpoints, which in turn is causing some delays among departing flights. While there was not an actual threat, the combined actions of TSA, OPD, GOAA and FAA would have undoubtedly saved lives, had there been an actual threat.
"Our TSA Team's performance was outstanding. As a result of the incident, a ground stop was issued, and a number of flights were held while passengers were allowed back into the building and security checkpoints reactivated", said airport spokesman Rod Johnson. "Our people responded as they are trained to do, and to lead passengers to safety".
Surveillance footage released by the TSA shows the moment a smouldering bag was quickly moved away from a passenger line by a level-headed TSA officer.