The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the airport, described the incident as a security breach that occurred at around 1:15 p.m. at a security checkpoint. Terminal C was evacuated and passengers had to go through security screening again.
TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said a mother and baby went through a metal detector when the machine sounded an alarm. The mother handed the child to the father, who had already been screened. The mother was cleared, but the baby hadn't been properly screened. The parents and baby left the checkpoint and headed to their gate, Farbstein said.
TSA officers searched for the family in the secure area of the terminal and notified Port Authority police as per protocol, but they emphasized that it was a low-risk situation, Farbstein said.
A TSA official said they had explained the circumstances of the breach to the Port Authority police and recommended against evacuating the terminal since it was a low-risk situation.
Steve Coleman, a Port Authority spokesman, said that it took the TSA more than 30 minutes to notify police of the lapse and that officers "took immediate action to make sure the breach did not endanger passengers or our facility."
"We're not going to second-guess a real-time decision made by our police department to err on the side of caution and protect passenger safety," he said.
The terminal and checkpoint were closed from 1:30 p.m. to 2:50 p.m.
Passenger Jennifer Pallanich said she was on a Houston-bound flight scheduled to depart at about 2 p.m. and boarding had been completed, but because of the breach, the passengers had to evacuate and go through security screening again.