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Pepper Spray Causes Airport Clash

February 06, 1996|LEE ROMNEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

COSTA MESA — An irate passenger fired his pepper spray in John Wayne Airport after he was asked to relinquish it at a security checkpoint Monday, causing airport officials to close down the checkpoint as firefighters cleared the air.

Airport spokeswoman Pat Ware said the incident occurred about 8 p.m. at the south security checkpoint.

"There were some people in the immediate area who did begin coughing," she said. The checkpoint was closed for 40 minutes, she said.

Orange County Fire Authority firefighters used fans to ventilate the area, she said.

Ware said the man aimed the pepper spray at the wall. He was taken into custody by airport security officers. His name was not available.

Ware said passengers should know that air travel with Mace or pepper spray is prohibited.

"We want to remind people that any hazardous materials are not allowed through the checkpoint," she said.

It is also forbidden to pack the materials in luggage, because they could detonate in the luggage compartment, which is not pressurized, she said.

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