Japanese tourist prompts evacuation of Hawaii airport after bringing hand grenades in carry-on bag

Japanese tourist prompts evacuation of Hawaii airport after bringing hand grenades in carry-on bag

A Japanese tourist prompted the temporary evacuation of a Hawaii airport Tuesday after she tried to pass through security with hand grenades in her carry-on bag.

The grenades were fortunately inert, but this fact was only discovered after law enforcement launched a major counterterrorism response, closing the security checkpoint and evacuating the airport terminal.

The incident at Hilo International Airport resulted in a “brief disruption of operations” of about an hour, the Hawaii Police Department said, responding alongside the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

The Japanese passenger was not allowed to leave the United States as planned and was taken into custody.

Akito Fukushima, 41, of Kanazawa, Japan, is now charged with first-degree terroristic threats, according to HPD. Fukushima remains in custody at the East Hawaii Detention Center as detectives continue their investigation.

This may seem obvious, but after the Fukushima arrest, HPD and TSA reminded airline passengers that inert or replica explosives were prohibited in checked or carry-on baggage.

This point, however, escaped another passenger who attempted to pass through the TSA security checkpoint at Pittsburgh airport with two inert grenades in his carry-on bag.

Oddly enough, the incident occurred on the very day that Fukushima was arrested.

In the United States, the TSA says it has detected 3,269 firearms at airport checkpoints since the beginning of the year. That equates to an average of about 19 firearms found each day, and nearly 95 percent of them were loaded, which is worrying.

The number of firearms detected so far in 2024 is roughly equivalent to what TSA officers found in the first six months of last year. However, TSA is having a record year so far in terms of the number of passengers screened, so firearm detections are proportionally down from 2023.

This may be because passengers are getting the message that they cannot bring their firearm in their carry-on baggage, or perhaps because the TSA is not very good at finding firearms.

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Mateusz Maszczynski

Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the Middle East’s largest airline and flew throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a renowned European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric storytelling. Always with an ear to the ground, Matt’s insights, analysis and news coverage are frequently used by some of the biggest names in journalism.