TRAVERSE CITY — Authorities and a bomb-sniffing dog failed to turn up evidence of explosives on a United Express morning flight from Chicago after an alleged bomb threat closed the airport and prompted a passenger's arrest.
"A bomb dog from Grand Traverse County was called in to sweep the aircraft and luggage on the aircraft with nothing out of the ordinary found," said Traverse City Police Capt. Steve Morgan this afternoon.
A flight attendant reported that a panel inside the plane's bathroom had been "tampered with," Morgan said.
Passenger Bob Crosby, 74, of Traverse City, said a man seated next to him entered the plane's bathroom "halfway through the flight," and spent about 15 minutes inside.
The passenger, 28, of California, allegedly entered the plane's bathroom with an "article," but returned to his seat without it. Police would not describe that item.
Local police, along with Transportation Security Administration officials and FBI investigators, continue to interview the man.
The Associated Press quoted an anonymous source as saying a suspect made a bomb threat, but TSA officials this afternoon released a statement that read:
"TSA was notified of a passenger entering the lavatory during approach of SkyWest Airlines Flight 6036 from Chicago O'Hare International Airport to Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City ... . The flight landed without incident ... all passengers were deplaned and the plane was swept with negative results. Per standard procedures, law enforcement and TSA personnel met the flight, and the passenger in question is currently being interviewed. (Cherry Capital) temporarily suspended operations at approximately 10:30 AM EST. Operations resumed at 10:56 AM EST.
Morgan would not comment on the man's ethnicity, but some passengers said he was of Middle-Eastern descent.
David Boyer believes that's why he was apprehended.
"He did nothing more than flying while Arabic," said Boyer, 47, a Chicago resident who has a home in Acme. "It was a completely normal flight."
Officials closed the local airport for security reasons, said airport director Stephen Cassens.