Souvenir hand grenade sparks scare at Gateway Airport

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

MESA, Ariz. -- A simple souvenir caused some tense moments at Phoenix Mesa Gateway Airport Sunday afternoon.

According to Sgt. Tony Landato of the Mesa Police Department, a suspicious object -- what appeared to be a hand grenade -- was spotted on an X-ray during luggage scanning for an Allegiant flight shortly before 3 p.m.

Mesa's bomb squad was called out to take a look. They quickly determined that the object in question was indeed a hand grenade, but it had been drilled out rendering it inert and thus harmless. The item was a souvenir paperweight.

The owner of the luggage was located and stated the device was not functional and was recently purchased from an antique store. An antique store employee was contacted by airport officers who verified the luggage owner's statement.

Landato said the situation delayed operations at the airport for about an hour. Everything has since returned to normal. No flights were delayed or canceled.

He also said the couple who packed the souvenir hand grenade in their baggage might face a fine from the TSA.

The TSA expressly prohibits hand grenades in both carry-on and checked luggage, but while the agency's website has information about traveling "realistic replicas of firearms," there is nothing specific about replica or inert explosive devices like the souvenir hand grenade involved in Sunday's incident.