83-year-old woman arrested after scuffle at Wichita airport

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

An 83-year-old Texas woman was arrested and booked into jail after punching a security agent at the Eisenhower National Airport in Wichita.

Authorities say Lila Mae Bryan, of Mesquite, became verbally abusive early Wednesday when TSA agents tried to confiscate an oversized bottle containing a liquid hand product. The woman struck a TSA agent after walking around an X-ray machine.

Bryan said she flew to Wichita for her 65-year class reunion. When it came time for her to return to Texas, she arrived at the airport and had a "bottle of gentle foaming hand soap from Bath and Body Works" in her suitcase.  She was told the bottle would only be allowed in checked luggage.

"It says 8.75 fluid ounces. I took it to Wichita. I took it to my hometown. I used it the whole week. They (TSA) told me I couldn't take it with me."

She said she was tired and hadn't taken her bipolar medication and walked around the X-ray machine.

"I'm not sure exactly what happened, but guess I hit the man. I got real out of it, and the police came and took me."

After she was fingerprinted and had her mugshot taken, she was escorted to the DA's office. 

"I've never been so relieved in all my life. He says, 'We're going to get this taken care of. It's going to be expunged from your record.'"

Bryan was released about two hours later. Southwest Airlines picked her up and took her back to the airport where she and her husband left on another flight. 

She said she would like to apologize to the TSA agent and would like to know why she couldn't take the hand soap. 

"I wish I would've handled it differently and I wish he would have handled it differently."

The Transportation Security Administration says, "You are allowed to bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes in your carry-on bag and through the checkpoint. These are limited to travel-sized containers that are 3.4 ounces."

Jennifer Magana, the city attorney, told The Associated Press that Bryan was cited by police for misdemeanor battery but a decision hadn't been made on whether to prosecute. 

TSA Regional Public Affairs Manager Carrie Harmon released the following statement:

"On Wednesday morning, May 31st, at Wichita Eisenhower National Airport, after a passenger's bag alarmed the screening technology, a TSA officer performed a routine bag search. Our officer discovered an oversized bottle of liquid hand soap in her carry-on bag. Per long-standing policy (Sept. 2006), all liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes must be limited to 3.4 ounces or less if packed in a carry-on bag. Our officers on the scene were professional and courteous in advising the passenger that the item is not allowed through the security checkpoint. The passenger escalated the situation and went behind the x-ray machine where she assaulted our officer. A Wichita police officer who was nearby promptly removed her from the scene and arrested her. Since then, the passenger has made a public apology to the officer involved. We make every effort to provide a smooth screening experience and do so daily while screening millions of passengers. TSA officers' primary goal is to keep travelers safe and secure. Threatening, assaulting, intimidating, or interfering with officers while they are performing screening duties is a violation of TSA security regulations, may constitute criminal conduct, and interferes with their ability to effectively protect the public."

KDFW and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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