Man Responsible For Saturday Airport Evacuation Had Welding Material

Man Responsible For Saturday Airport Evacuation Had Welding Material

By Erika Summers. CREATED Aug 8, 2011


If convicted of a crime, Copley faces up to five years in prison. The judge gave him permission to attend his sister's wedding.

Omaha, NE - Two evacuations in less than a week at Eppley Airfield. Monday, one of the men who had a suspicious device in his luggage was in court.

Last Wednesday's evacuation was long and tiring for passengers. Saturday, a similar scene at Eppley Airfield replays after authorities find what looks like a homemade firework. "He's honestly a good kid," said Gabriel Copley's father Courtney Copley.

In an exclusive interview, 20-year-old Gabriel Copley's parents say their son climbs communication towers for a living and forgot he had some welding material in his laptop bag when he tried boarding the airplane to go to his sister's wedding in Kentucky. "It's not a bomb period. It's a welding material that puts off heat and smoke," said Copley.

Copley's attorney claims his client wrapped the welding material together with duct tape and was going to use it to make smoke on the 4th of July but forgot to use it. "This is not an explosive device," said Gabriel Copley's attorney James Martin Davis.

Omaha police say they arrested Copley for possession of a destructive device because it did have a spark and did have the capability of going off. Officers detonated it away from the terminal. The Eppley Airfield Airport Authority says it caused quite a disruption. "Seven flights disrupted, we estimate that it impacted 500 travelers and possibly as many as 250 more," said Eppley Airfield's Airport Authority Executive Director Steve Coufal.

The welding material is used for lightning protection on communication towers.