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Man Held on Airport Weapon Charge

Arrest: New Jersey authorities say the Bulgarian student had two box cutters, scissors.

September 30, 2002|From Associated Press

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — A Bulgarian national was arrested Sunday at Atlantic City International Airport after federal screeners found a pair of scissors embedded in a bar of soap and two box cutters in a lotion bottle in his backpack.

Nikolay Volodicv Dzhonev, 21, was charged with possession of a prohibited weapon. Egg Harbor Township police said Dzhonev was being held on $100,000 bail. An arraignment was set for today.

Authorities said the man was a student from Bulgaria with a summer visa allowing him to work at an Atlantic City-area convenience store.

He was the last passenger to pass through screening Sunday for a flight from Atlantic City to Myrtle Beach, S.C., Transportation Security Administration spokesman Robert Johnson said.

When his backpack went through the X-ray machine, screeners spotted the scissors and pulled him aside, Johnson said. A search of the backpack turned up the scissors, embedded in a bar of soap, and the box cutters hidden in a lotion bottle, Johnson said.

"The concern was there may have been some effort to conceal them," Johnson said. He said the fact that the man's one-way ticket was purchased on the Internet in August also raised suspicion.

The man told authorities he packed the items that way to keep them from damaging anything else in his backpack, Johnson said. He said he bought the Spirit Airlines ticket so he could visit a friend in South Carolina before returning to Bulgaria.

"We're proud of the fact that our screeners caught it," Johnson said. "Here's an example of the federal screeners doing their job keeping these items off the plane, giving law enforcement a chance to sort through it."

Spirit Airlines spokeswoman Laura Bennett said that the flight carrying 84 passengers departed on time, and that the arrest did not affect operations.

Travelers were relieved a suspect had been caught, but said the incident wasn't unduly disturbing.

"I'm here to gamble and I play the odds," said Hunter Boylan, 56, of Boone, N.C., who was visiting Atlantic City for the weekend.

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