SALT LAKE CITY, UT (KSTU/Tribune/CNN) – Federal agents are investigating after police said a man slipped past Travel Security Administration officers at Salt Lake City International Airport and assaulted another man over the weekend.
On a busy Saturday night at the airport, Lance, who declined to give his last name, was sitting at an empty table in terminal 1, waiting for his flight, when something hit his head “so strongly that I went black."
“I thought something had fallen from the ceiling or a piece of equipment had hit me,” he said.
But the blows kept coming “until it hit me again and hit me again and I knew then I was being attacked. I just didn’t know who and why," Lance said.
Those nearby watched as Lance was hit five times in the back of the head and twice in the face.
“Oh, I’m in panic and, and I’m asking for help, I’m asking for help. I’m literally asking for help, screaming for help,” he said.
Blood was dripping down Lance’s face as his attacker took Lance’s phone off the table and walked 50 feet down the hallway.
Shortly after, security handcuffed 42-year-old Victor Cossio and took Lance to the hospital.
It wasn’t until later that Lance learned his attacker never should have been on the secure side of the airport.
Cossio slipped by security without a boarding pass.
The suspect arrived at the airport “and simply walked past the TSA agent working at screening 1 verification reader,” Lance said surveillance video showed.
Lance said police found three boarding passes on Cassio, none with his name, and no airlines had a reservation under his name.
One of the witnesses also said they saw him at a gate earlier, attempting to get on a flight.
Federal and local agencies are investigating.
TSA released a statement saying “TSA’s travel document verification procedures were not properly followed at Salt Lake City International Airport on Saturday, March 30. As a result, an individual who was not ticketed for travel gained access to the sterile area of the airport. The individual and his belongings were screened through the security checkpoint with no alarms. TSA will cooperate with law enforcement in its ongoing investigation.”
“In light of what our country has gone through in the last 20 years, this should not be happening at all,” Lance said.