TSA screener finds pepper spray on the floor, gasses five other screeners because he thought it was a laser-pointer

A TSA screener at JFK pepper-sprayed five of his colleagues at Terminal 2 on Tuesday, according to the New York Post. The screener, Chris Yves Dabel, found a pepper-spray cannister on the floor and believed it was a laser-pointer, so (for some reason), he aimed it at five other screeners and pressed the trigger. The six were sent to Jamaica Hospital.

The screener sprayed five other TSA agents around him, sending all six to Jamaica Hospital and halting security checks at Kennedy for at least 15 minutes, police said.

No passengers reported injuries. Dabel refused medical attention.

TSA officials scrambled to keep the embarrassing incident under wraps yesterday — until The Post began inquiring about it, a source said.

Oops, TSA guy goes spray-zy! [NY Post/Josh Margolin]

(via Digg)

(Image: Pepper Spray Cop - White background, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from donkeyhotey's photostream)


      1. Every person who went through high school could have been found in a high school locker room at some point. I get what you are saying, but the inaccuracy of your language just bugs me.

        1. Every person who went through high school could have been found in a high school locker room at some point.

          WRONG! I’ve never been in a high school locker room.

          1. I got a psych excuse. Had I even realized that I had scoliosis, I doubt that they would have cared.

  1. So TSA agents confuse things all the time!
    I was starting to wonder why so many children in wheelchairs were being mistaken for suicide-bombers.

  2. So, were all five of these people in a lineup that got caught by a single spray or did he spray one person, move to the next, and only realized after number 4 that it wasn’t a laser pointer? Biased comments are welcome.

    1. I bet what really happened was he sprayed all five, laughing, ’cause he was just in that sprayin’ mood and there weren’t any other hapless victims at hand,  But then, belatedly realizing he was in Big Trouble because he’d sprayed federal agents (and not just powerless, meaningless, taxpaying voters) he remembered Johannes Mehrseles’s murder of Oscar Grant, and blurted out “Oh, I thought this object entirely unlike a laser was a laser!

      I mean, I could be wrong, but it seems to the most likely story given the Keystone Kops nature of the TSA’s normal routine.

      1. TSA Agents are “federal agents” in the sense that they are employees of a federal agency, but they are not sworn law enforcement. Your point is taken, but it’s not like shooting a law enforcement agent.

        1.  They are “officers” not agents.  “Agent” generally has a specific meaning in law enforcement but “officer” is pretty broad.

          I was a “Technology Officer” for example which int he real world meant: “Computer tech/legal hacker with a badge but no arrest power”.

    2. Pepper spray fired in an enclosed area will impact everyone in that area.  It’s not an accurate weapon.  If you and 5 other people are in a room, and you spray one person, none of the 6 of you are free from the effects.

      It’s more like a smoke grenade than a gun.

      1.  As someone who got hit with pepper spray because some girl brought it to school and sprayed it on the bus, I can confirm that it impacts everyone in the nearby area.

    1. That’s nothing. The last time I pepper-sprayed five TSA screeners they didn’t let me on the plane at ALL.

  3. Possibly accurate headline: TSA agent fiddling with his pepper spray accidentally sprays 5 coworkers, devises lame coverup story.

    1. Lame coverup story, maybe, but it’s much more likely that he was fiddling with some passenger’s stuff rather than bringing his own.

  4. according to the New York Post.

    A more reliable chronicler of events you will seldom find.

    I am glad I clicked through though, if I hadn’t I wouldn’t have seen that on the same page they have a headline: “Sexame Street!”

  5. The only way to combat random pepper spray laying around on the floor of a security theater and then accidently being discharged by a TSA employee is to arm everyone with pepper spray.

    1. Doubt it. If they were anywhere near the spraying if they opened htier mouths they’d end up hacking up a lung from fumes.

  6. Also, laser pointers are not meant to be pointed at people’s faces anyway. Man, I hope security cam footage of this ends up on youtube.

  7. “OK, in order to infiltrate the secure area, we simply leave a can of tear gas on the floor. When one of the TSA screeners picks it up and sprays it at his colleagues, we slip past the scanners in the confusion.”
    “But that’s madness! No one could possibly be that stupid!”
    “Just trust me. It’ll work …”

    1.  It’s clear that everyone in the general vicinity should have been indefinitely detained until they can prove beyond a doubt that this wasn’t the nefarious plan. 

      1. Actually… in that instaince I can buy having an immediate halt and stop of Everyone in the general area and doing a full on audit to make sure nobody used the chaos/stupidity to slip past.

        Yes tha’ts obtrusive and annoying as hell but ‘it’s just dumb enough to work’… Might have been more than someone being a moron on the job.

      1. Making a remote trigger that looks like a laser pointer would probably be extremely trivial. It says a lot that the security people think ‘Hey, here’s a random electronic device, let’s activate it!’ regardless of what they THINK it is. 

    1. Also those that want to lower the barrier to entry into actual government jobs get a job working for the TSA.

  8. You media people – always ready to jump on the sensational story.  You were quick to report this, but how about reporting the thousands of times a TSA screener picked up a laser pointer and, thinking it was pepper spray, tried to spray his colleagues.  That would be… uh, fair and balanced.

  9. 1) This was undoubtedly recorded. We need the video

    2) The video must be put to Yakety Sax.

  10. To get the full effect, shouldn’t they have been handcuffed and sprayed full in the face for several seconds, then been denied aid for a half hour? 

  11. Wasn’t the kid who shone a laser pointer at a jet just sentenced to 30 months in prison?

    1. Yes, but the real risk here wasn’t only that he could have blinded his coworkers or somebody farther away, it’s also that one of the armed real cops at the airport could have seen a red laser dot on his coworker and thought somebody was pointing a real gun. 

      Fortunately the real cops at airports are a lot smarter than the TSA, but they can still make mistakes.

  12. If I had internet god powers of meme creation, Youtube dramatizations of this would be the new Harlem Shake.  Impossibly hilarious!

  13. Sadly, this is not the most terrifying thing to happen to airport personnel this week.

      1. It’s a monster from Canada, the misbegotten spawn of a Christian nutjob and Autotune.

  14. I’m glad they took care to hire only the best.

    I now feel totally safe from malicious shoes and underwear.

  15. This helps explain why they are suspicious the power cables for alaptop they just saw you take out of a bag- they are genuinely bad at identifying objects.

    A shame that’s kind of their job, isn’t it? Identifying things, specifically threats?

  16. Most of us may see this as a tragic, fumbling, idiotic mistake but if you step back and look at the situation realistically, we’re mostly wrong. This guy just made a calculated, strategic career move that catapulted him several rungs up into managerial levels — don’t forget this is the TSA.

    1. They pay low wages, have tried to prevent the workers from organizing and don’t train them enough for what they’re supposed to do. It’s exactly as neoliberal America likes: McJobs

    1. I once saw an NYPD transit officer run onto a crowded subway car to stop a brawl… he was already pulling his pepper spray when he went into the car.  I tapped the person next to me ( watching from the platform ) and said… watch this, it’s going to be hilarious.

      moments later the car is emptying of people coughing and wheezing and in obvious pain.  including the officer who didn’t really think about what happens when you use pepper spray in a confined space.

      guy next to me looked at me in disgust and said ‘that’s horrible’.  i was too busy laughing to care =P.

      good times.

  17. We can be grateful that he did not mistake an assault rifle for a bubble machine.

    So this is one of the people who looks through luggage for dangerous items?

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