Bomb-Like Watch Triggers Man's Arrest at Oakland Airport

By Deanne Katz, Esq. on November 20, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Airport security agents are pretty sensitive about explosive devices, so it's no surprise that a bomb-like watch didn't make it through security.

Last week, Geoffrey McGann showed up at Oakland International Airport wearing a watch that looked like a timing device for an explosive. It had a toggle switch, wires, and fuses protruding from it, which attracted the attention of TSA agents.

That, combined with McGann's military-style shirt with built-in tourniquets in the sleeves and too-large shoes with a homemade cavity, raised a few eyebrows. So the TSA called in the bomb squad.

While TSA agents are charged with transportation security, they aren't law enforcement officers and they can't make arrests. Their only power is to detain you for a reasonable period of time until police arrive and deny you access to the airport.

When local police arrived to investigate, they arrested McGann on suspicion of having bomb-making materials and he spent some time in jail, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

After paying $150,000 bail, McGann was released until his hearing. But when he showed up in court Monday, he was told the case had been dismissed.

TSA agents and local police were upset, but local prosecutors didn't think it was worth pressing charges.

Police are authorized to make arrests, but only a prosecutor can charge someone with a crime. In some jurisdictions, police and prosecutors work together so that charges can be brought quickly.

Officers can fax or call in the details of an issue to a prosecutor, and then a quick decision can be made about the charges. Those charges can be altered at any time before the preliminary hearing once the prosecutor has time to closely consider the facts.

That seems to be what happened in this case, since the charges were dismissed.

Some have criticized McGann for his fashion choices, but he claims to have worn the watch to the airport before with no problems, reports the San Jose Mercury News. McGann insists this was just a case of overreaching by police and TSA officials.

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