WICHITA, KS (KCTV) - An international furor has erupted after a mother says federal Transportation Security Administration agents in Wichita manhandled her 4-year-old daughter after she gave her grandmother a hug.
The Montana mom posted her story earlier this month on Facebook with the headline "My daughter was mistaken for a terrorist." It's been picked up by numerous media outlets including England's Daily Mail.
The TSA told media outlets that the Wichita agents followed proper procedures. Click here to read their entire statement.
The woman said she had been in Kansas attending her older brother's wedding, which occurred during the tornadoes that ravaged Wichita.
"It was a beautiful wedding, and the reception was fantastic, despite that it took place during one of the worse storms Kansas has seen in 13 years," Michelle Brademeyer wrote. "In fact, we ended up spending a portion of the reception inside a tornado shelter. When we began our trip the next morning, I figured tornadoes were the most intimidated thing we wound encounter on vacation.
"I had no idea how wrong I was," she said.
Brademeyer, her 6-year-old and 4-year-old children and her mother were on the same flight from Wichita. Grandma was connecting onward to her home in California while the Mom and her two kids were connecting to Montana.
Grandma set off an alarm and TSA asked her to step aside for a special pat down.
"All of this was perfectly routine. When my four-year-old daughter noticed her grandmother, she excitedly ran over to give her a hug, as children often do. They made very brief contact, no longer than a few seconds. The Transportation Security Officers who were present responded to this very simple action in the worst way imaginable," Brademeyer.
She said the TSA agent began to upbraid her daughter and said she too must undergo a full body pat down. Brademeyer said she was prevented from explaining the situation to her daughter or comforting her hysterics.
She said the agent refused to let her daughter go through the scanners again.
"It was implied several times that my mother in their brief two-second embrace had passed a handgun to my daughter," Brademeyer wrote. "My child, who was obviously terrified had no idea what was going on, and the (agents) involved still made no attempt to explain it to her. When they spoke to her, it was devoid of any sort of compassion, kindness or respect. They told her she had to come to them, alone, and spread her arms and legs. She screamed, 'No, I don't want to!' then did what any frightened young child might, she ran in the opposite direction."
A TSA agent then threatened to shut down the entire Wichita airport, cancel flights if she did not get her "high security threat" under control, according the mother's Facebook post.
She said two TSA agents went after her daughter while she was ordered to have no contact.
"At this point, I was beyond upset. I disregarded what the (agent) had to same to me, and I ran to my daughter. I picked her up. I hugged her. I tried to comfort her. The (agents) were not pleased."
The mother further wrote about how the situation disintegrated in which her daughter was shaking and sobbing uncontrollably who did not want to stand still and let strangers touch her. She said she was in agony seeing her daughter so terrified.
She said one agent repeatedly said she had previously "seen a gun in a teddy bear," and seemed utterly convinced that her daughter was concealing a weapon.
"Worse still, she was treating my daughter like she understood how dangerous this was, as if my daughter was not only a tool in a terrorist plot, but actually in on it," she wrote.
The agent ordered her daughter to stop crying but she continued to bawl. Two agents called for backup, saying , "'The suspect is not cooperating," Brademeyer claimed.
"The suspect, of course, being a frightened child. They treated my daughter no better than if she had been a terrorist," she said. "It was an awful sight."
A third agent arrived, and he ordered the preschooler to stand still and stop crying.
"When she did not stop crying on command, they demanded we leave the airport," she said. "They claimed they could not safety check my daughter for dangerous items if she was in tears. I will admit, I lost my temper."
She demanded that a supervisor come to the scene. The supervisor declared that she could be checked out while crying if she were held by her mother. After finding nothing, the family was sent on their way but not until after a lengthy exam of Brademeyer's identification and boarding pass.
"When we arrived at a our gate, I noticed that (the TSA agents) had followed us through the airport. I was told something was wrong with my boarding pass and I would have to show it to them again. Upon seeing the (agent), my daughter was thrown into hysterics. Eventually, we were able to board our flight."
She said her daughter has nightmares because of experience. And her mother remains outraged.
"What should have been a very minor, routine security check was turned into a horrific ordeal. All of this could have been prevented if the (TSA agents) involved had used a little bit of compassion and a smidgen of common sense," she said. "There is no reason for any child to go through this, and while I completely understand the necessary of tight airport security, I fail to see how harassing a small child will provide safety for anyone."
"I feel compelled to share this story in the hope that no other child will have to share in this experience,"
Click here to read Brademeyer's original post.
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