Christian Smith, a 22-year-old man from Arkansas, was released Friday morning from a Detroit jail after causing a security breech at the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport on Thursday night, officials said.
Smith, was arrested and cited for violating an airport ordinance after he left a secured area and re-entered it without being re-screened, airport spokesman Michael Conway said.
Smith, who was traveling from Little Rock to Los Angeles, had missed his connecting flight in Detroit and walked through the exit lane of a security check point. Smith then walked an unknown distance and returned to the check point, walking through the exit lane again. A Transportation Security Administration agent told Smith he needed to be re-screened, but Smith ignored the agent and walked past him. At that point, the TSA agent hit the breech button and called airport security and police, Conway said.
The airport treated Smith as a serious threat and watched him closely on the camera, monitoring where he had gone once he was inside the terminal to be sure he hadn't passed off anything to anyone or planted a package anywhere. TSA agents were unable to stop him when he went through security as the agents aren't armed and cannot leave their station. Their only option was to hit the breech button, Conway said.
"We had so many cameras on him, we didn't feel the need to re-screen the whole airport," Conway said. "But Concourse A is a mile long, and at one point he disappeared into a family bathroom."
Once Smith was found and taken into custody, the entire concourse was searched thoroughly by federal and local police and a K-9 unit, according to Conway.
The lockdown lasted from 8:45 p.m. until about 11:15 p.m., delaying 33 flights and affecting around 3,000 people, Conway said.
"I don't know if he just felt like 'I was just in there, I don't need to go through security,'" Conway said. "I don't know what he was thinking, but he inconvenienced a lot of people."
Delta was able to get all the flights out later that night for the people stuck at the airport, Conway said.
Smith will have a court date set by the 34th District Court just outside of Detroit.