Halloween costume trips up security devices at airport

By Associated Press
Published October 31, 2003

WEST PALM BEACH - A man's creative Halloween costume caused an uproar at Palm Beach International Airport when it tripped an explosives detector during a baggage screening.

Eric Velleca, 28, was pulled off his United Airlines flight to Chicago and questioned by investigators Wednesday while a bomb squad inspected the trunk carrying three costumes patterned after the outfits worn in the film Ghostbusters.

The trunk contained PVC pipes, radios, cell phones, batteries with wires attached and car distributor caps to be used to assemble the "proton packs" for costumes he and two friends were planning to wear for a party.

The materials set off the security device and the trunk was rushed to a remote section of the airport. Officials discussed blowing up the trunk but decided against it, Velleca said.

Lauren Stover, regional spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration, said officials had no choice but to treat the situation as if it were a threat.

"People need to be careful about incorporating simulated bombs into their costumes," she said.

Velleca, of Loxahatchee, was able to catch another flight to Chicago later Wednesday - with his costume props.