Surveillance video shows TSA officer removing smoking bag from security checkpoint

PHOTO: A TSA officer grabs a smoking bag at the Orlando International Airport in Orlando, Fla., Nov. 10, 2017.PlaySurveillance video from TSA
WATCH TSA agent details moments after lithium battery explosion

An exploding lithium ion camera battery in a passenger’s backpack caused panic at Orlando International Airport last Friday.

A Transportation Security Administration officer ended up grabbing the bag and taking it away from passengers, according to agency officials.

A smoking backpack in a security line can be seen in surveillance video released by the TSA.

It is not clear who owned the bag.

Ricardo Perez, a 20-year veteran of the Army before joining the TSA, placed the bag "between a concrete column and a concrete planter to mitigate any harm that might come with a full explosion," according to a TSA statement commending the agent for his actions and the passengers for their quick reactions "given the current threat environment."

Passengers reported hearing loud banging sounds, causing panic "throughout" the airport, according to the statement. Many passengers fled through the security checkpoints and into the terminal. Authorities had to declare a ground stop and re-secure the airport, a process that takes hours at large airports like Orlando.

Orlando Police alerted passengers via Twitter that there was no danger to the public.

Airlines cancelled more than 24 flights and TSA re-screened more than 5,000 passengers after the incident, which security officials said lasted approximately four hours and affected more than 100 flights.

"Our TSA team's performance was outstanding. I'm very proud of our team and how they responded to both the incident and the recovery process of rescreening passengers,” TSA Federal Security Director Jerry Henderson said. “Our people responded as they are trained to do, and to lead passengers to safety. I am especially proud of our Officer who unselfishly rushed to a potentially deadly situation in order to protect lives."

Authorities did not report any injuries from the incident.

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