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Officials: Man arrested in LaGuardia Airport security breach

Returning travelers wait at LaGuardia Airport's baggage

Returning travelers wait at LaGuardia Airport's baggage claim. A man has been arrested in connection with a security breach in the central terminal that triggered an evacuation Tuesday, May 23, 2017. Credit: Getty Images / Stephen Chernin

A man has been arrested in connection with a security breach that triggered an evacuation at LaGuardia Airport, officials said Thursday.

Pani Kumar Varanasi, 41, has been charged with criminal trespassing after he allegedly momentarily entered a secure area of LaGuardia Airport’s Terminal B via the exit lane about 6:25 p.m. Tuesday, according to Port Authority and TSA officials.

Varanasi, who was traveling into LaGuardia from Detroit, returned to the public side of the checkpoint approximately five minutes later, according to the TSA. But the brief breach led to an evacuation of an entire terminal to allow officials to sweep the area.

“Nothing dangerous [was] found,” according to a statement from TSA.

While calling the breach a seeming “mistake,” Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) has demanded answers from TSA about how Varanasi, who Port Authority police believe to be from India, was able to pass through a security checkpoint unscreened.

“This was a five-minute breach, which is totally unacceptable. A 30-second breach is unacceptable,” said King, who on Wednesday penned a letter to Huban Gowadia, the TSA’s acting administrator, calling for a “thorough review of the situation to identify security gaps that allowed this to occur.”

King said he believes TSA has been making progress at tightening security at its airports, but believes more could be done.

“It could have been incidental mistake, but we have zero margin of error at this time,” King said. ‘‘We saw what happened in Manchester and other incidents around the world; we just can’t let our guard down.”

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