Two Security Guards Suspended After Breach At Lambert Airport

Created: Thursday, 08 May 2008, 4:54 PM CDT

Lambert St. Louis Airport

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By Chris Regnier

(KTVI - myFOXstl.com) -- There are new developments in the Lambert security breach.

Two security officers are suspended without pay after a homeless man slipped by them early Wednesday morning at a vehicle checkpoint.

The guards work for Whalen Security- the company's president, Greg Twardowski, told FOX 2 News over the phone that he is extremely concerned about what took place.

He's not the only one- an aviation expert and passengers are also speaking out.

"Obviously it was a thoughtless breach of security," said SLU aviation expert Mel Burkart about the incident.

Airport officials say the Whalen Security officers were searching cars when a homeless man walked right past them.

The man then found his way into a Trans States Airlines regional jet- where he fell asleep until an airline employee found him.

Burkart says outside areas around airports are the weakest links in security.

"The potential is there. You know you have an airport like St. Louis that has hundreds of acres of ground and it has a fence up all the way around it but it's not monitored and it's not under total security vigilance day and night," explained Burkart.

T.S.A. officials tell us the breach shows the importance of layered security.

That is security from T.S.A., airports and airlines.

T.S.A.. spokesperson Carrie Harmon said, "We all recognize that these layers are important because no single layer is 100 percent full proof 100 percent of the time."

Authorities say the 58 year old homeless man has been released from custody until warrants are issued.

We're told that might not come until Monday and that the man could face a misdemeanor trespassing charge.

The entire episode is still making passengers uneasy.

We asked passenger Dave Jenner if the breach made him nervous about security.

Dave said, "Of course it does because anything can happen at anytime and when we take our eyes off what's going on, that's when it happens."

Airport officials tell FOX 2 News measures have been taken to try and make sure what happened Wednesday doesn't happen again.

A Trans States spokesperson says he's pleased that workers from his company followed security procedures and checked the jet finding the man.


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