Victoria Airport shutdown caused by decommissioned grenades; man facing mischief charge

Operations at the Victoria International Airport returned to normal after the discovery of inert military surplus explosives in checked bags on May 24. (April Lawrence/CHEK News)

A man has been charged with mischief after an airport security employee flagged a checked bag containing two decommissioned grenades at the Victoria International Airport Tuesday afternoon, which resulted in the airport being shut down for several hours.

According to Sidney/North Saanich RCMP, officers were contacted by the airport around 1:30 p.m. after a Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) employee found a checked bag with suspicious-looking items.

A scan of the bag flagged it as containing potentially incendiary devices that were eventually identified as two decommissioned grenades.

“So essentially what these were, were believed to be at one point active explosives, and had since been decommissioned and this individual was in possession of them,” said Cpl. Andres Sanchez, spokesman for Sidney North Saanich RCMP.

“At this point, I can’t speak to why this individual decided to bring these items onto an airplane. An investigation is ongoing and charges are pending at this point.”

The man attempting to fly with them, who was booked on an international flight, is facing a charge of mischief and future charges could be added, according to RCMP. Police told CHEK News Wednesday the man is believed to be in his late 40s, is not known to them and has been released from custody with an upcoming court date.

The RCMP closed off the departures area of Victoria International Airport, and flights were cancelled starting at 2:30 p.m., according to the airport.

“As always, the security and safety of our staff and visitors is our priority,” said Geoff Dickson, Victoria Airport Authority president and CEO. “The RCMP determined that there was potential risk to airport staff and passengers and directed that parts of the air terminal building close.”

RCMP say the investigation led to the discovery of a second bag belonging to the same person which was not able to safely be scanned or examined.

Members of the RCMP Explosives Disposal Unit were called to help with the investigation, which determined the bags contained inert military surplus explosives, later confirmed as inert grenades.

“The RCMP is reminding travellers to confirm the items you are travelling with are permitted on aircraft or that you have prior permission to travel with certain items,” said Sanchez.

The airport resumed regular operations around 8:30 p.m., and around 20 flights were cancelled during the window where the investigation was underway.

Laura Brougham

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