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Man climbs fence at Sky Harbor, runs to plane

PHOENIX — Two men were arrested Christmas Day on opposite sides of the
country after they breached perimeters at major airports, raising questions
about security measures and whether more needs to be done to protect the
nation’s transit hubs.

Robert Edward Bump, 49, scaled a roughly 9-foot, barbed wire topped fence at
about 5:30 p.m. at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport before running out
onto the tarmac and banging on the engine of an arriving Southwest Airlines

He was arrested a few minutes later after another pilot spotted him and alerted
the tower, Phoenix police spokesman Officer James Holmes said.

No injuries were reported, and Holmes said passengers were never in danger.

In New Jersey, a man was arrested Wednesday after authorities found him on the
tarmac of Newark Liberty Airport. It’s not clear how Siyah Bryant, 24, of Jersey
City, ended up on the tarmac. A phone number for Bryant, who is charged with
trespassing, couldn’t be located.

In Phoenix, authorities immediately alerted the pilot of the Southwest Airlines
plane, who shut down his engines as Bump approached, airport spokeswoman Deborah
Ostreicher said.

Surveillance video shows the man being surrounded by airport security vehicles
as he wandered away from the plane with his arms outstretched as if he were
flying. A police officer arrived soon after and arrested him.

Bump showed signs of drug and alcohol impairment and was booked on a
misdemeanor charge of entering a restricted area at the airport, said Holmes,
adding that the man didn’t explain to authorities during questioning why he did

“He didn’t really say anything that made any sense,” Holmes said.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Bump has an attorney. Police said he is

Security on the airport’s runway system has been breached in the past.

In November 2012, a woman rammed through a partially open gate at the Phoenix
airport and drove on the runway with her infant son in the car.

Also, Sky Harbor spent $10 million to upgrade its perimeter security and access
gates after a man being chased by police in 2005 crashed a stolen pickup through
a fence and drove onto the runways, passing several jets on a taxiway.

Ostreicher said the airport does not have a perimeter intrusion detection
system that includes motion sensors, but security personnel and dozens of
cameras are in place around the facility.

“You are safe as a traveler here. A person who tries to do something like
that, however, is in grave danger,” she said.

The Transportation Security Administration doesn’t require airports to maintain
full-time surveillance of their perimeter fences, leaving airport security
largely in the hands of individual facilities.

Jeff Price, an aviation professor at the Metropolitan State University of
Denver and former assistant security director at Denver International Airport,
said perimeter intrusion detection systems might be needed at the nation’s
larger airports as an extra layer, given their prominence and volume of

Still, installing such a detection system is no guarantee that breaches will be
avoided. “There’s no such thing as airtight security,” Price said.

Price said it looked as though people working in the airport tower did as they
were supposed to by responding quickly. While perimeter fences are a key part of
airport security, Price said an airport relies on many layers of security,
including workers required to challenge and report people on air fields who
don’t have security badges.


AP writer Brian Skoloff contributed to this report. Correspondent Geoff
Mulvihill contributed to this report from Trenton, N.J.


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