- Oakland resident Stefan Hutchison was arrested earlier this week for causing a disturbance at Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas.
- Hutchison knocked over a bunch of line dividers which on-edge travelers mistook for gunshots.
- The only excuse that Hutchison had for police was that he was anxious to get home.
I’ve always liked the Las Vegas airport. It’s close to the city, which in a more civilized time allowed you to cut it dangerously close when it came to departure times. I can’t get used to calling it ‘Harry Reid International Airport’ and I guess it’ll forever be ‘McCarran International’ to me.
As you’d expect, it’s never a dull moment at Harry Reid International thanks to a heavy passenger volume made up of businessmen, foreigners, degenerate gamblers, pimps, drunks, strippers and every other imaginable sub-species of the city’s visitors. Earlier this week, there was a disturbance at the airport which was initially thought by on-edge travelers as an ‘active shooter’. Turns out it was just a random nut that ran through a security checkpoint because he was ‘in a hurry to get home’.
Stefan Hutchison, 33, of Oakland was arrested for setting the aforementioned disturbance in motion. As I understand it, Hutchison had the bright idea that he’d charge through a secured door in Terminal 1 of the airport. This is a big ‘no no’ for air travel, particularly in the post 9-11 security theater era. I know every travel hack imaginable to make flying somewhat tolerable. Rushing through a security checkpoint is not one of them.
The real disturbance began when Hutchison apparently knocked down ten stanchions–those are the things that keep the lines divided. Each one made a loud noise as it fell and America being what it is, the throng of passengers assumed that it was an active shooter and that the noises were gunshots. Hundreds of frightened citizens ran from the area with many bypassing security checkpoints without being screened. The San Francisco news outlet SFGate gave this report from the arresting officer:
The arresting officer, Eric Jones, wrote the airport at that hour was “extremely busy with thousands of travelers.” He said he heard “approximately 10 loud banging sounds” in the airline ticketing area and saw “hundreds of frightened citizens fleeing,” including “trampling over each other,” and rushing past TSA checkpoints.
Police and social media reports compared the noises to gunshots.
“I determined the loud bangs were stanchions (line dividers) falling on the floor when the citizens were escaping the area,” Jones wrote.
At least Hutchison had a good excuse–he didn’t want to wait for his Monday flight to go home:
“Hutchison stated he arrived to Las Vegas on United Airlines on Friday and that he was ready to go back home as soon as possible,” police said. “Hutchison said he had a flight scheduled to leave on Monday on United Airlines but couldn’t wait. He would not give any further explanation to his actions.”
I’m assuming that drugs and/or alcohol were involved. Here’s a tip for Mr. Hutchison–get yourself a CLEAR membership and you won’t have to wait in the security line at most major US airports ever again.
But wait–there’s more: Hutchison has the dubious distinction of being arrested *twice* at Harry Reid International Airport in a 24 hour span. On Saturday morning, my man walked past two TSA agents at a screening checkpoint, then shoplifted a pair of $170 USD sunglasses from a Hudson News store in non-very-discreet fashion. Here’s how an article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal described this incident:
On Saturday morning, Hutchison was arrested after police said a man walked past two TSA agents at a screening checkpoint. The man ran into a Hudson News store and exited with a $170 pair of sunglasses he did not pay for, police said, before he was arrested while flailing his arms and kicking his feet.
“The subject was sweating profusely, yelling and did not comply with officer’s command,” police said, adding the man still had the sunglasses in his hands.
Hutchison was booked at the Clark County Detention Center on misdemeanor counts of resisting an officer and public conduct at the airport Saturday and released on his own recognizance, then returned to the airport Sunday morning, police said. Las Vegas Justice Court records show he has been charged with two felony counts of burglary of a business in connection with the events at the airport Sunday.
Another account on Fox5 Vegas’ website gives the situation more of a ‘Three Stooges’ vibe:
The first incident happened around 8:35 a.m. Aug. 13. An LVMPD officer was flagged down by a TSA agent after a person reportedly breached the security checkpoint. An unknown white male was seen walking past two TSA agents at screening and continued to walk toward B-gates terminal.
“He then ran around the center of the room six times and entered the Hudson News store,” LVMPD said in an arrest report. The man reportedly walked out with a pair of sunglasses valued at $170 without paying, the report said.
The suspect didn’t acknowledge verbal commands to stop when he was spotted and resisted arrest, LVMPD said. Police said the man, later identified as Hutchison, was sweating profusely, yelling and didn’t comply with commands.
TSA agents said they tried to stop Hutchison multiple times, even standing in front of him and making a “stop” motion with their hands, but Hutchison didn’t comply and just walked through anyway, LVMPD said in the report. Then TSA pressed the alarm button to notify of a breached subject.
The shoplifting situation is what makes me conclude that Hutchison was strung out on drugs and/or booze, most likely for his entire stay in Las Vegas. Everyone at some point has stolen something from a store in the airport. Usually, it’s a defensive move–a cashier goes on break while you’re trying to pay for a Diet Coke for your wife and you’ve got to board your plane is an example. You don’t draw attention to yourself by alerting every law enforcement officer in the building and *then* shoplift. And you certainly don’t resist arrest. That never ends well.
I’d *really* like to know what Hutchison was up to in the 24 hours between his first and second arrests. As if Hutchison doesn’t have enough problems, the first thing that pops up when you Google his name is his LinkedIn profile.