Explosive device found in checked luggage as suspect leaves airport

An explosive device was discovered in a checked luggage, as a man suspected of dropping it off was seen leaving the airport.

A passenger who was set to take an Allegiant Air flight checked the bag at Lehigh Valley International Airport, according to a criminal complaint obtained by NBC 10 Philadelphia on Wednesday.

Mark Muffley, 40, of Lansford has been taken into custody by the FBI.

In the lining of the bag was a circular compound measuring roughly 3 inches in diameter. It had two fuses as well as powder hidden in wax paper and plastic wrap.

The ‘powder is suspected to be a mixture of flash powder and the dark granulars that are used in commercial grade fireworks,’ states the complaint. ‘The black powder and flash powder are susceptible to ignite from heat and friction and posed a significant risk to the aircraft and passengers.’

In addition, the luggage had ‘a can of butane, a lighter, a pipe with white powder residue, a wireless drill with cordless batteries, and two GFCI outlets taped together with black tape’, according to the complaint.

The device was found during a ‘routine screening’ as it set off an alarm, according to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

A TSA officer ‘located an item inside the suitcase that appeared to be suspicious and was believed to possibly be a live explosive device’, stated the agency.

The device was detected just after 11am on Monday.

An announcement was made for Muffley to return to the security desk, according to the complaint. But five minutes later, Muffley was spotted on security cameras fleeing the airport.

The west end of the main terminal was shut down as the incident was investigated. The bag was removed from the airport and the terminal reopened around 2pm, an airport spokesperson told ABC News.

FBI and local law enforcement bomb squads confirmed that the object ‘was indeed a live explosive device’, TSA stated.

Muffley, who had a ticket to fly to Orlando Sanford International Airport, was arrested at his home that night.

He has been charged with possession of an explosive at an airport, as well as possessing or attempting to place an explosive or incendiary device on a plane.

His initial court appearance is scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

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