Miami-Dade County

MIA closes two checkpoints as police investigate package

Crowds wait to be let back into Miami International Airport after an evacuation on Monday, Nov. 9, 2015.
Crowds wait to be let back into Miami International Airport after an evacuation on Monday, Nov. 9, 2015. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Miami International Airport passengers faced hours-long waits Monday evening as Miami-Dade police closed two security checkpoints while they investigated a suspicious carry-on bag from a passenger going through security at Concourse D.

Photos and video surfaced on social media Monday night showing armed police with helmets walking slowly down the aisle of a plane on the tarmac at MIA, with passengers holding their hands above their head. Twitter user Cheri F McGuire posted photos and video of the officers.

“Big officers & big guns. #scary,’’ she tweeted.

McGuire said she had been evacuated from American Airlines Flight 2393 to Barbados around 8:30 p.m., after sitting on the plane for more than two hours.

Miami-Dade police Detective Daniel Ferrin referred queries to the FBI. Michael D. Leverock, special agent in the FBI’s Miami office, said in an email Monday night that a passenger went through security and “it was later determined that items in his carry-on bag looked suspicious.’’

The passenger was questioned and his bag was searched, but “the items in question were deemed safe/non-hazardous,’’ Leverock wrote.

The passenger cooperated and faces no charges, he said.

The airport closed Concourse D’s checkpoints 2 and 3 around 5:30 p.m. The closures affected about 10 gates.

The checkpoints reopened around 8 p.m., airport spokesman Greg Chin said. By then, 50 flights — 28 departures and 22 arrivals — had been delayed, Chin said. Nine flights were diverted.

Meanwhile, traffic to and from the airport was so backed up that travelers began getting out of cars and walking with their luggage along the ramp.

As soon as Concourse D reopened, passengers dashed to checkpoints and ticket lines. Bryan Cole said he sat in traffic for more than an hour and missed his 8 p.m. flight to Atlanta, where he lives.

“They should have a back-up plan. I don't know what I am going to do now.’’

Ron and Crystal Flauaus arrived at about 5 p.m. to make an 8:19 American Airlines flight to Washington’s Dulles International Airport. Crystal said when they arrived everyone was being kept out of the center section of Terminal D.

“We have been put in three different lines and no one seems to know what they are doing,’’ she said.

Carli Teproff and Noel Gonzalez