TSA agent punched in chest by passenger

Updated 4:44 p.m. ET
A passenger was arrested Tuesday for punching a Transportation Security Administration officer in the chest after passing through a body-imaging machine at Indianapolis International Airport, police said.

According to police, John A. Christina, 51, admitted to punching the officer after passing through the machine and asking the officer about increased security procedures. The officer replied that he does not normally work in Indianapolis and could not answer the question.

Christina then punched the officer in the chest, police said. The officer, who is normally assigned to the Dayton, Ohio, airport, asked Christina why he punched him.

"I was only kidding with you," Christina replied.

Other TSA agents and passengers witnessed the incident, police said, and Christina was arrested and charged with battery.

In a statement, TSA spokesman Greg Soule called violence against TSOs, "shameful."

"TSA will work with local authorities to see that appropriate action is taken," Soule said.

John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said TSA needs to better inform the general public about the new security procedures in order to avoid future confusion and attacks. It should consider giving passengers an informational pamphlet, he said.

"This absence of information has resulted in a backlash against the character and professionalism of TSOs based on a few widely reported but largely ill-founded claims repeated over and over again by the media," Gates said. "Like all Americans, TSOs deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. These men and women are as the first line of defense against those who seek to harm this country."

AFGE is hoping to one day serve as the only union representing TSOs.

The body-imaging machines are at the center of increased criticism and scrutiny of TSA's airport security measures.

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