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Explosive discovered at PA airport; FBI arrests suspect

A TSA agent works behind a splatter guard at the security check area inside Terminal 3 at O'Hare International Airport. (John J. Kim / Chicago Tribune/TNS)
March 02, 2023

A man allegedly tried to bring an explosive device in his suitcase on board a plane on Monday, triggering a partial evacuation of the airport and his arrest by federal agents hours later.

Part of Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley International Airport was evacuated on Monday after security officers found an explosive device while screening a checked bag, according to a press release from the Transportation Security Administration. 

Security cameras allegedly saw the bag’s owner, 40-year-old Marc Muffley, leaving the airport after he was called to the security desk over the intercom system, CNN reported

An FBI spokesperson said Muffley was arrested without incident late that night at his home in Lansford, Pennsylvania, CNN reported. He is set to make his first court appearance Thursday.

READ MORE: TSA confiscated more than 6,500 guns from passengers last year

Court records show Muffley has been charged more than six times in the last decade for crimes including possession of controlled substances, harassment, and minor theft, CNN reported. 

Jack Soberick, a former police chief who said he encountered Muffley numerous times in 25 years of service, said he does not think Muffley is “radicalized,” adding: “There’s nothing that would light up and say, ‘Hey, this guy’s gonna try to bomb an aircraft.’”

Court documents say that after an alarm during the screening process alerted TSA agents to Muffley’s baggage, an inspection revealed a “circular compound approximately three inches in diameter, wrapped in a wax-like paper and clear plastic wrap hidden in the lining of the baggage, among other items,” CNN reported.

READ MORE: Pic: Gun parts found in jars of peanut butter, TSA says

A fuse was attached to the circular compound, investigators said. Bomb technicians assessed that there was “indeed a live explosive device” in the bag, according to the TSA press release.

The bag was X-rayed by a safety bomb technician, who found there was a powder hidden in the plastic wrap consistent with “commercial grade fireworks.” The baggage also contained a can of butane, a lighter, a pipe with white powder residue, a wireless drill, and two electrical outlets bound together with black tape, court documents stated.