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"Here's your pipe bomb back, sir. Enjoy your flight!"
January 16, 2014 1:17 PM   Subscribe

Young man passes through airport security with a pipe bomb, but CATSA doesn't report it until four days later. 18 year old Skyler Murphy forgot he had a homemade explosive in his luggage when traveling from Edmonton to Mexico.
posted by Kitteh (74 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
The young man was white. As if you couldn't have guessed.
posted by foldedfish at 1:18 PM on January 16 [24 favorites]


How do you "forget" that you have a pipe bomb in your luggage?
posted by Strange Interlude at 1:25 PM on January 16 [5 favorites]


How do you "forget" that you have a pipe bomb in your luggage?

The rest of your luggage is molotov cocktails, grenades and AK-47s?
posted by yoink at 1:27 PM on January 16 [11 favorites]


That's nothing. I just flew to Oklahoma and back with fourteen ounces of shampoo in my carry-on bag.
posted by Curious Artificer at 1:28 PM on January 16 [47 favorites]


Skylar Vincent Murphy was caught with the pipe bomb on Sept. 20. Security took the explosive away, but Murphy was given the go-ahead to continue on his flight.

The title of this post is completely misleading. The pipe bomb was not taken on the plane.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:28 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]


Ceci n'est pas une bombe-tuyau.
posted by zamboni at 1:30 PM on January 16 [4 favorites]


The title of this post is completely misleading. The pipe bomb was not taken on the plane.

...where in the title of the post does it say the pipe bomb was taken on the plane?
posted by Shepherd at 1:33 PM on January 16


The title of this post is completely misleading. The pipe bomb was not taken on the plane.
According to details that came out in court, the CATSA guard was caught on video pushing the device back to Murphy. Reportedly, Murphy was told “You can keep it.”
Pipe bomb handed back to passenger Skylar Murphy by airport guard
posted by mazola at 1:33 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


The title of this post is completely misleading. The pipe bomb was not taken on the plane.
"Here's your pipe bomb back, sir. Enjoy your flight!"
Pipe bomb handed back to passenger Skylar Murphy by airport guard
A Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) guard who seized a pipe bomb from a man at Edmonton International Airport tried to give it back to him, CBC News has learned.
Skylar Vincent Murphy, 18, of Spruce Grove, Alta., was allowed to get on a flight at Edmonton International Airport on Sept. 20 after he was caught with a pipe bomb by security.
According to details that came out in court, the CATSA guard was caught on video pushing the device back to Murphy. Reportedly, Murphy was told “You can keep it.”
posted by zamboni at 1:34 PM on January 16


"Sorry officer, I didn't know I couldn't do that."
posted by stinkfoot at 1:35 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]


I'm shocked by the inability of Canada's TSA to overreact to this situation, but relieved that the RCMP made up for it later by sending in a SWAT team.
posted by Slothrup at 1:35 PM on January 16 [12 favorites]


While the militarization of our police does bother me, I have no issue at all with sending in a SWAT team to arrest a guy who's known to be building pipe bombs.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:38 PM on January 16 [5 favorites]


Ohferchristssake, it was only a pipe bomb -- perspective people!
posted by mazola at 1:38 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]


Oops. Okay, post title not misleading. I misread "18 year old Skyler Murphy forgot he had a homemade explosive in his luggage when traveling from Edmonton to Mexico." as suggesting that the pipe bomb was in his luggage as he traveled between Edmonton and Mexico - in other words, that the security screening failed to detect a pipe bomb. In reality, a security person just made a very bad choice when finding a pipe bomb, which is a different class of very bad problem.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:40 PM on January 16


My favorite twist to the story is the one that just happened on one of our half hour news breaks. Apparently Mr. Murphy said he would be happy to give the CBC the inside scoop on what really happened...if they paid him.

They declined.
posted by Kitteh at 1:42 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]


Ohferchristssake, it was only a pipe bomb -- perspective people!

"Pipe bomb" is a term that covers a lot of different devices--some of them extremely lethal. I don't know how dangerous this particular one was, but "only a pipe bomb" isn't a very meaningful statement.
posted by yoink at 1:43 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


The young man was white. As if you couldn't have guessed.

Strangely enough on the news program my wife and I caught this on, they had a CG recreation of what happened, and of course in CG the guy had dark skin. It wasn't until the very end of the story they showed a photo of the guy. Looks like Global News' "bomb on airplane CG default setting" must be Arab.
posted by Hoopo at 1:48 PM on January 16 [15 favorites]


How do you "forget" that you have a pipe bomb in your luggage?

This woman forgot an AR15 in her rental car.

This guy forgot his loaded pistol in his pocket.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:49 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


Yeah but guns are legal things you are allowed to carry or transport in some areas. A homemade pipe bomb? not so much
posted by Hoopo at 1:50 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


Alberta. Canada's Texas.
posted by jrochest at 1:53 PM on January 16 [8 favorites]


There wouldn't have been an issue if he had put it in a clear ziplock baggy.
posted by Kabanos at 1:53 PM on January 16 [7 favorites]


He was allowed to continue on with his family vacation to Mexico. When he returned, he was arrested, tried, and sentenced to 1 year probation and a $100 fine. All of that suggests that he's not a dangerous criminal, there was no malicious intent, it was just a huge mistake, and that the screener's initial assessment of situation was the correct one.

An airport security screener with good judgement. We're supposed to be alarmed by that?
posted by i_have_a_computer at 1:53 PM on January 16 [8 favorites]


An airport security screener with good judgement. We're supposed to be alarmed by that?

Offering a PIPE BOMB back to an airline passenger is good judgment on the part of airport security?
posted by Dasein at 1:57 PM on January 16 [10 favorites]


All of that suggests that he's not a dangerous criminal

But the homemade pipebomb he carries around with him determined that was a lie
posted by Hoopo at 1:57 PM on January 16 [5 favorites]


We all know it was just a bike!
posted by symbioid at 1:57 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]


Wow, the judge is kind of a dick:
“If the authorities had missed that pipe bomb and you had gone, in Mexico, through a screening device, you would not even get a trial, more than likely,” the judge said. “You would be in a Mexican jail and your grandfather and your family would be visiting you in that jail. And you would probably be learning Spanish by now, if you survived. I doubt you would have survived.”
posted by yoink at 2:00 PM on January 16 [4 favorites]


The young man was white. As if you couldn't have guessed.

Eh, as a Canadian who just went on an international flight I'm not sure if this is the issue here. CATSA hires pretty dumb people to do the screening. The issue is more to do with lack of training.

I can tell you though that the flight we went on was made safe by the apprehension of my deodorant stick by security.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:02 PM on January 16 [3 favorites]


Also, given that I have been harassed by CATSA personnel for having two items of carry-on luggage, their complete failure to take seriously a fucking pipe bomb only deepens my contempt for that organization. Apparently the federal government can't run an airline security system that keeps bombs off planes, but they sure are good at making sure our deadly cell phones are turned off.
posted by Dasein at 2:05 PM on January 16


Wow. So is the kid's lenient treatment by Edmonton authorities some kind of over-compensation for the assumed unfairly harsh treatment they presume he would have received at the hands of the bad bad Mexican Federales?

Someone above made an Alberta/Texas joke -- or was that a serious cultural comparison, in terms of conservatism and gun culture? I'm actually sort of curious about that.

I'm dumbfounded, speaking as someone who's been made to feel like a contemptible criminal for not taking my bifocal glasses out of my pocket during X-ray magic booth time. (Though that was at the hands of the US TSA, not their Canadian counterparts.)
posted by aught at 2:20 PM on January 16


Also, given that I have been harassed by CATSA personnel for having two items of carry-on luggage, their complete failure to take seriously a fucking pipe bomb only deepens my contempt for that organization.

I think the security folks are all temps / 3rd-party contractors (essentially rent-a-cops).
posted by KokuRyu at 2:20 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]


Wow, the judge is kind of a dick

Some judges are eager to point out to people how much better they have it than in other countries and that they should stop their bitching.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 2:22 PM on January 16


I hate dealing with airport security too, but mostly that's not because of the people as much as what they've been instructed to do. They're not all incompetent, I have a very intelligent and hardworking friend that works at security screening in a Canadian international airport. More often than not the problems I've encountered have been of the "I know, but we have to do this" variety and they recognize its dumb, too.

My wife made me stop being snarky with them though. Once while standing with my boots off and getting the "wand" treatment with my arms out, they asked me to take off my belt. I did so, shooting daggers out of my eyes the whole time, and as my pants slowly slid down my ass I said "feel safer?" out loud. Realized right away that probably wasn't a thing I should make a habit of.
posted by Hoopo at 2:27 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


Alberta. Canada's Texas.

Edmonton. Alberta's Austin.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 2:29 PM on January 16 [4 favorites]


I think the security folks are all temps / 3rd-party contractors (essentially rent-a-cops).

"Our screening officers are not police officers and they can't charge anybody with a crime."
posted by Kabanos at 2:30 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


> and as my pants slowly slid down my ass I said "feel safer?"

This brilliant passage makes me want to start a twitter account: @MFOutOfContext.
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:32 PM on January 16 [13 favorites]


Considering the various people's reactions to the "pipe bomb", I am thinking it was likely some kind of noise maker/potato canon/etc and the "pipe bomb" label is complete misleading.
posted by Bovine Love at 2:38 PM on January 16


The source said that after the pipe bomb was discovered, the airport should have been immediately evacuated because of the high risk of injury and death to the public.

How powerful do they think these pipe bombs are? Do they not have a secure bin for explosives? It sounds as if they're just making stuff up as they go along.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:41 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


aught, that was me: yes, the relation of TROC to Alberta really does remind me of the USA's relation to Texas. Although the 'Alberta's Austin' comment above is valid, too.
posted by jrochest at 2:43 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


I am thinking it was likely some kind of noise maker/potato canon/etc and the "pipe bomb" label is complete misleading.

It was a pipe bomb, full of black powder. He made it by stealing bullets from his mother's boyfriend's gun. The boyfriend is a cop, and it is not clear if this was his service weapon. This boy is a bad boy.
posted by Hoopo at 2:43 PM on January 16 [4 favorites]


Ah crap.

I kept seeing "pipe bong."

Sorry.

Carry on.
posted by mule98J at 2:46 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]


Bovine Love: it was a metal pipe 15 cm x 5 cm (about 6" by 2") sealed at both ends with a metal cap, fused and containing gunpowder. The moron that made it said that he planned to blow up a shed with it; I don't think it could have done that, but it could have injured or killed someone near it.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:50 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


And the loser child is attempting to finance the 500.00 donation that the judge stipulated he make to the local hospital burn unit by charging reporters -- in this case, the CBC -- for an interview.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have ourselves a choad.
posted by jrochest at 3:06 PM on January 16 [6 favorites]


He was allowed to continue on with his family vacation to Mexico. When he returned, he was arrested, tried, and sentenced to 1 year probation and a $100 fine. All of that suggests that he's not a dangerous criminal, there was no malicious intent, it was just a huge mistake, and that the screener's initial assessment of situation was the correct one.

Totally. I heard them talking about this on The Current this morning and AMT was totally pushing the outrage angle, how this is making Canada look weak in the War on Terror yada yada yada. If anything I think the officers should be commended for not completely ruining this kid's life for a dumb mistake, not to mention the family's vacation.

And the punishment eventually meted out was fair too. It's nice, for once, to hear about somebody not getting ruthlessly fucked over by a needlessly vindictive justice system.
posted by Flashman at 3:08 PM on January 16 [7 favorites]


Alberta/Texas ... I'm actually sort of curious about that.

The American Imprint on Alberta Politics (PDF), Wiseman, 2010:
In 1911, when Americans accounted for only 3 per cent of Canada's population they constituted 22 per cent of Albertans. They comprised 30 per cent of Alberta's immigrants between 1900 and 1920, leading an Alberta MP to declare in Parliament that his province “might be regarded as a typical American state.” By 1921, there were more British-born Albertans than American-born ones, but the Americans outnumbered Britons in all 15 of the province's rural census divisions and about half of southern Alberta's farmers were Americans.
Wiseman argues that the diproportionatly large Americain population in Alberta continues to have a lasting political effect on the province:
In delineating English Canadian political culture, many highlight the values of a decamped offshoot of revolutionary America, Upper Canada's Loyalists. The analysis here 'has been of a later American offshoot, Alberta's pioneering Americans and their formative imprint on Alberta politics. It underscores the individualist-liberal values of Alberta's settler Americans as a founding ideological fragment. Those values congealed in the province's formative years and they continue to define the parameters of political discourse in Alberta.
So, given that argument, it's fair to say that Alberta was influenced by the American political culture of Texas, much more so than either of the older, more British, Eastern Canada or BC settlements.
posted by bonehead at 3:16 PM on January 16 [6 favorites]


I guess the kind of person that would have a pipe bomb in their luggage is also the kind of person who would forget that they had a pipe bomb in their luggage and my marveling at the variety of ways of thinking and problem solving that make up what could be reasonably called one broadly homogenous humanity is actually nothing more than a kind of category error.
posted by Divine_Wino at 3:23 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]


Is Skyler a unisex name?
posted by acb at 3:55 PM on January 16


"Hey amigos up north, thanks for making us look slightly less idiotic for a minute" -- TSA
posted by gottabefunky at 4:21 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


So, given that argument, it's fair to say that Alberta was influenced by the American political culture of Texas, much more so than either of the older, more British, Eastern Canada or BC settlements.

These early American immigrants didn't come from Texas, though (although I suppose there is a strong connection between Texas and Calgary).

Texas also seems to be a state with an incredibly vibrant and diverse cultural and political tapestry.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:23 PM on January 16


"What's the difference between Alberta and Texas?"
"Alberta thinks it's part of the US"
posted by Grimgrin at 4:26 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


*sigh*

On a social values scale. Alberta citizens score more liberal than Massachusetts.

Common Alberta stereotypes aside, I have confirmed directly with my associate--who happens to be a relative of Mr. Murphy--that he is, indeed, an idiot in general.
posted by whittaker at 4:30 PM on January 16 [5 favorites]


I just recently flew back from Chicago to Japan with a tube smoker, which is a pretty awesome device for making smoked salmon, smoked sausage, all kinds of things. It looks almost exactly like a well perforated pipe bomb, and I was trying to decide what to do with it. Should I put it in my carry-on so I can explain what it is, or just check it and hope for the best? I ended up checking it, and when I got home, there was no "this bag has been checked" note. Nothing was out of place, nothing had been unpacked and repacked.

I'm a lot less worried about what I can or can't pack anymore.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:44 PM on January 16


There wouldn't have been an issue if he had put it in a clear ziplock baggy.

And only 4 oz gunpowder.
posted by BlueHorse at 6:07 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


I can't wait to read through Bonehead's PDF link. Little know fact - the reason there is a huge Mormon population in Southern Alberta is that they were contracted to build the first irrigation system over 100 years ago. You can even drive the Mormon Trail. I always grew up being told that Calgary was an American city - when I grew up in the 80s, Edmonton didn't feel American. Now that I have travelled to the US extensively, Alberta doesn't feel American at all.
posted by Calzephyr at 6:47 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


The great thing about Calgary is there are jobs, the jobs pay better than other parts of Canada, and (unlike Vancouver) there is an art scene.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:50 PM on January 16


Judge rules TSA no-fly procedures unconstitutional
posted by homunculus at 6:54 PM on January 16


And the art scene is getting better all the time! The changes since I moved here in 1994 have been amazing. It's easy to make glib comparisons, but Albertans really do liked to be judged on their own merits.
posted by Calzephyr at 6:56 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]


Albertans really do liked to be judged on their own merits.

Government aside.
posted by mazola at 8:50 PM on January 16


Alberta. Canada's Texas.

It really isn't.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 9:30 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


With all love to my hometown of Edmonton, there's some truth to the Alberta/Texas thing - resource extraction economies with few urban centres tend towards the conservative end of the spectrum. (jrochest, surely Saskatchewan is Canada's Wyoming?)
posted by gingerest at 10:19 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


Reminds me of this dude I used to buy from, I'd be like, "Yo, you got any acid," and he'd say "I dunno, I think maybe" and start going through his wallet and pockets. You kind of have to remember where you put your felony-level shit, cause you'd better believe that guy ended up getting arrested soon enough too.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 12:03 AM on January 17


Yes, we have conservative ranchers and oilmen. And the population here largely votes conservative. Relative to the rest of Canada our cities are more suburban in character. I suppose certain people in both places would consider their state/province to be distinct from the rest of the country.

But our cities are nothing like Texan cities. Calgary's sprawl is $450k houses on 30 ft lots, and 4-storey condos, with sidewalks and bus lines and no HOAs. Christianity is not a force here. Gun owners are hunters. And our conservatism is all about money. Lower my taxes and let me keep my oil company job and who cares what that entails. It's not about "family values" or crime and punishment or immigration.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 1:59 AM on January 17 [1 favorite]


The young man was white. As if you couldn't have guessed.

With a name like Skyler? What are the odds?
posted by euphorb at 6:44 AM on January 17 [1 favorite]


This really is a microcosm of the war on terra: do nothing in the face of a clear potential danger, then overreact once it's too late.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:46 AM on January 17 [1 favorite]


I apologize for contributing to this derail but the mis-characterization of Alberta, its attitudes, and its political leanings are a sore spot for me because it is precisely this continued misunderstanding of the west that has allowed a particularly ugly, brutish political force to exploit this for political gain federally.

Albertans often have weird hangups and dumb assumptions but, as has been shown, 81% of them live in large urban environments and are perfectly capable of electing fairly progressive leaders on the merits of their platforms and records provided that these candidates don't have the millstone of a party acronym with unfortunate historical baggage in the region next to their names at the ballot box.
posted by whittaker at 6:55 AM on January 17 [2 favorites]


and (unlike Vancouver) there is an art scene.

I'm not a guy that's going to go to bat for Vancouver on the regular but I have no idea what this is supposed to mean
posted by Hoopo at 7:34 AM on January 17 [1 favorite]


Yup, I was wrong, it was a real live pipe bomb. There are additional details coming out now, but it looks like they may have followed the protocol for drugs instead of explosives. Of course, many employees are coming out now and saying how the supervisors screwed up; I expect a full cover your ass exercise by everyone. Some of them might even be in the right.

I do take issue with one thing though: That there was a clear threat. A threat requires both means and intent. Clearly the means was there, but I think even the judge after the fact clearly felt intent was not. Still, it was mishandled; intent (or lack thereof) should probably be determined in an interview room immediately.
posted by Bovine Love at 8:03 AM on January 17


Also negligence. Mind-boggling levels of negligence. No, it's not likely going to take down the plane, but something even equivalent to this could cause some legitimate damage and injuries if it went off while stashed in an overhead compartment in the cabin. I'm not saying lock the guy up and throw away the key, but probation and a $100 fine and $500 donation seems sort of on the low end of consequences for a fuck up of this magnitude. Some significant mandated amount of community service or something maybe?
posted by Hoopo at 8:15 AM on January 17


Even if it were inadvertent, as it seems as it was, there are severe penalites for improperly transporting explosives by plane, up to $50,000 for a first offence and potenitally 2 years in prison. That's just the transportation laws, not the criminal weapon safety or new counter-terror laws either.

This guy got off very lightly.
posted by bonehead at 10:04 AM on January 17


This is Canada, land of the arts. Our security theatre is avant-garde.
posted by oulipian at 12:12 PM on January 17 [2 favorites]


(jrochest, surely Saskatchewan is Canada's Wyoming?)

No, I think we're Canada's North Dakota.

I hold no brief for Saskabush -- I was born in Vancouver and lived, by choice and with great joy, in Toronto for 15 years. Saskatoon has improved massively since I moved here a decade ago, but when I first arrived I seriously considered abandoning academia and flying back to TO to work in fast food sales.
posted by jrochest at 2:31 PM on January 17 [2 favorites]


And yes, I know that not all Albertans are right-wing yahoos who think the Second Coming is at hand and who want to ban abortion, stone the gays, introduce a flat tax and force the immgrunts to go backwheretheycamefrom -- but there are quite a few of them who live amongst you.
posted by jrochest at 2:34 PM on January 17


Um, how could I not make that statement about any province of the dominion? I am aware that an impossible, caricatured metric is less likely than a statement that cannot be held to any quantifiable standard ;).
posted by whittaker at 3:04 PM on January 17


flat tax, yes. The rest, no. Second coming, anti-abortion, anti-gay? You're thinking of the bible belt, which is in a different country. Canada does not have a bible belt.

I hear more anti-immigrant sentiment coming from Quebec.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 3:32 PM on January 17 [1 favorite]


Canada does not have a bible belt.

Abbotsford?
posted by KokuRyu at 5:46 PM on January 17


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