Police: Man had explosives at Philadelphia International Airport

Joseph Picklo

March 29, 2012 4:28:01 PM PDT
A man was taken into custody at Philadelphia International Airport while allegedly trying to board a plane with explosives early Thursday morning.

Federal charges have been filed against a Luzerne County man after explosives were found in his backpack at Philadelphia International Airport.

29-year old Joseph Picklo of Dallas, Pennsylvania was arrested by security screeners at the terminal D &E checkpoint early Thursday morning.

Picklo claims it was a mistake.

Investigators say he had materials that could have been assembled into a bomb. He is facing one federal charge and maybe more as investigators try to determine what he was really up to.

Joseph Picklo told investigators it was an innocent mistake as he tried to board a 6:00am flight to San Francisco.

He was stopped at the security checkpoint between the "D" and "E" terminals. TSA agents detected suspicious materials in his carry-on bag.

Police say they found two homemade M-80's, a plastic bottle wrapped in electrical tape with explosive powder inside, and a test tube filled with another powdery substance with a wick attached.

They also found a cigarette lighter.

As Action News and 6abc.com first reported, Picklo was stopped while going through a checkpoint at Terminals D-E at 5:35 a.m. trying to get on a United Airlines flight to San Francisco.

"He says that he has an interest in these items professionally and that he experiments with these items and had forgotten that they were in his luggage," explained Chief Inspector Joseph Sullivan, Philadelphia Police.

Picklo lives in this house in Dallas, Pennsylvania, northwest of Wilkes-Barre. Investigators were there shortly after he was stopped at the airport.

Initially they said the incident does not appear to be terror related, but the investigation continues.

Investigators say Picklo claims to be a self employed salesman trying to start a business using explosive targets.

They say he told them he was fooling around with explosives over the weekend and forgot the items were in his backpack.

There was minimal disruption of service at the airport as the bomb squad secured the explosive materials.

"The male who was in possession of these dangerous devices did not make it through screening. He was detected before he got through screening, and therefore, no other passengers on that flight were never in danger as a result of this unfortunate behavior," said Chief Sullivan.

Sources say a federal background check showed no initial connection to terrorism. Those sources also said Picklo told authorities he forgot the explosives were in his backpack.

The Philadelphia Police Bomb Squad later rendered the items safe.

Airport officials say this is a perfect example of how airport security should work in this post-9/11 world.

Airport operations were minimally affected - one gate was closed for 20 minutes while police responded.

The flight Picklo was trying to board was delayed. Action News has learned that some of the passengers on that flight were trying to catch a connecting flight to Tokyo - a flight they will now miss because of the delay.

The FBI, the ATF and TSA are all involved in the ongoing investigation that could lead to more charges.

For now, Picklo faces a hearing in federal court Friday on a single charge of attempting to bring explosives onto an airplane. That charge could get him up to 10 years in prison.