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O'Hare Balm Scare

CHICAGO -- The nation's air transportation system ground to a halt as Chicago's O'Hare Airport was shut down as the Transportation Security Administration evacuated all the concourses in frantic a search for an alleged bomb suspect.

The breach began at 9:15 a.m. CDT, Friday, closing the nation's busiest airport for nearly twelve hours. About 10,000 people, passengers and employees who were evacuated were required to go through security checks again.

Flights began taking off again just after 11 p.m. CDT. Effects of the shutdown were felt throughout the country. All flights into or out of Chicago were delayed on the busiest travel day of the week. One airline official said it would take days before things get back to normal.

Aviation Commissioner John A. Roberson said the suspect, a white male, had cleared a security checkpoint when Transportation Security Officer Dan Corrigan believed he overheard a bomb threat by the man.

Private security workers and National Guard troops chased the man, but he was quickly engulfed by crowds of passengers and disappeared. Police with bomb-sniffing dogs searched the airport, The Associated Press reported.

Elvis Dirtliver of Tupelo, Mississippi was identified by pictures retrieved and distributed from a security camera and later apprehended smoking a cigarette in a bathroom stall on Concourse E.

"Dang, I said 'balm' not 'bomb' ya morons," exclaimed Dirtliver as he was escorted away from the gate area. "I got me a ferocious canker sore, man."

Dirtliver was later issued a citation for public abuse of tobacco and released to catch a later flight back home, though his Chapstick dispenser was seized and sent to explosive labs at the Army's Aberdeen Proving grounds for analysis.



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