Authorities are investigating a breach at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport in which 11 people went through security checkpoints without being screened Monday morning, with three of them setting off metal detectors, Transportation Security Administration and Port Authority officials say.
An airport official and a senior law enforcement official said at 6:05 a.m. Monday that TSA officials left a Terminal 5 security lane open and unattended by screeners.
The TSA confirmed in a statement that "early reports indicate 3 passengers did not receive required secondary screening after alarming the walk through metal detector." The agency said that all the travelers' carry-on bags received the required screening.
The TSA didn't notify police of the possible breach until about two hours later, according to law enforcement sources.
Police then canvassed the JetBlue terminal using photos and video screen grabs but could not locate any of the 11 passengers, and the travelers were presumed to have boarded their various flights, according to Port Authority police spokesman Joe Pentangelo. Three of them have been identified as passengers on a California-bound flight, and they're expected to be screened there once they land.
Port Authority police say they'll continue to work with federal authorities to identify and locate the other eight passengers.
The TSA's statement said it is "confident" that the reported breach does not threaten the security of the screening system.
"TSA works with a network of security layers both seen and unseen," the agency said. "We are confident this incident presents no threat to the aviation transportation system. Once our review is complete, TSA will discipline and retrain employees as appropriate."