UPDATE: Explosive Evacuates Midland Airport, Sparks Investigation

30-year-old Trey Scott Atwater
30-year-old Trey Scott Atwater

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - For Midland International Airport, a smooth New Year's Eve getting travelers to their flights all changed in a single moment Saturday morning at approximately 9 a.m.

"We had an individual coming to the checkpoint with military-grade explosives in his luggage," Midland Police Sergeant, Brian Rackow, said.

Immediately, TSA security stepped away from the carry-on bag and evacuated the terminal while the Midland Police Bomb Squad and the FBI descended, performing a sweep of the entire area.

What they found was a military-grade explosive in the carry-on bag of 30-year-old Trey Scott Atwater, who is serving active U.S. military duty with the U.S. Army.

"The X-ray scanners are designed to pick up that kind of material densities and stuff like that," Rackow said. "They'll color it and try to get the operator's attention."

Retired Hobbs, New Mexico schoolteacher, Lee Hill, just flew in from Dallas/Fort Worth when the evacuation began. He requires a cane to walk and had to be wheeled out in a wheelchair.

"I thought I was in a movie or something," Hill said. "They were all these extras standing around for a movie. My mind just went wild. I had no idea that something like this would happen at this airport."

Atwater was taken into FBI custody and transported to a different area within the airport for interrogation.

By 10:30 a.m., the terminal had reopened and it was business as usual.

Authorities tell NewsWest 9, Atwater was in the Basin visiting family and was reportedly on his way to North Carolina.

Authorities also told NewsWest 9 they are treating this investigation as no accident.

"No explosive would be an accident," Rackow said. "Being of that type and stuff like that, it's not commercially available, so they're interviewing the individual at this time. He's being cooperative. They're just trying to work out the story with how he ended up with it and what he's doing with it."

The FBI's Public Information Officer told NewsWest 9 the investigation is still ongoing and they will not release any new details at this time.

As far as what type of explosive it was, authorities said they cannot confirm the type until tests are performed on it.

Stay tuned to NewsWest 9 and NewsWest9.com for the very latest.