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Man's mental health questioned in Vegas airport panic case

·1 min read

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A defense attorney raised questions Wednesday about the mental health of his client, a California man accused of causing panic early Sunday during his second arrest in two days at busy Harry Reid International Airport.

Stefan Mathias Hutchison, 33, of Oakland, stood in shackles as a Las Vegas judge granted his lawyer's request to have him undergo a competency evaluation. The judge said Hutchison will remain jailed without bail and set another court appearance Sept. 9.

The attorney, Michael Troiano, declined additional comment outside court but issued a statement saying Hutchison had “absolutely no criminal intent” and calling it “evident that a mental health episode” led to his arrests Saturday and Sunday.

Hutchison faces misdemeanor airport misconduct and resisting arrest charges after allegedly walking past Transportation Security Administration screeners on Saturday, and two felony burglary charges stemming from his Sunday arrest. In Nevada, burglary includes entering a building with intent to commit a crime.

Hutchison was freed from jail Saturday with a promise to appear in court in October.

Hours later, police said two airline ticket agents were hurt, not seriously, when Hutchison pushed through an airport security door about 4:30 a.m. Sunday.

Police said Hutchison told arresting officers that he wanted to go home immediately, not wait for a flight on Monday.

A police officer reported hearing about 10 “loud banging sounds” in the airline ticketing area, and said he learned that metal line-dividing stanchions fell to the floor as “hundreds of frightened citizens” fled, trampling each other and rushing past TSA checkpoints.

Airline flights were canceled and delayed throughout the day as passengers were rescreened through security checkpoints before boarding flights.

Ken Ritter, The Associated Press