NEW YORK (FOX 5 NEWS) - Pope Francis left New York City Saturday morning from John K. Kennedy International Airport bound for Philadelphia. Later that night on the tarmac where the pontiff had just boarded an airplane, a retired New York City firefighter breached security and illegally entered that restricted area posing as part of a Secret Service motorcade, police said.
Investigators said Chris Cannela, 39, of Long Island, drove a black Chevy Tahoe similar to the ones Secret Service use and followed a motorcade into a secure are of the airport. The motorcade at the time was not escorting the pope but other VIPs at JFK.
At one security checkpoint Cannela flashed a silver object at security guard that looked like a police badge and then drove through the check point, according to court documents. He was finally stopped by a Port Authority police officer, questioned, and arrested when he could not prove he had permission to be there. When police searched his car, they said they found hollow point bullets, a knife, and marijuana in the trunk.
"People who show up at that type of location with a weapon in the car adds an element of credibility to that threat," said Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service officer.
Cannela's lawyer said his client, who is being held on half a million dollars bond, had no plans to hurt the pope. Attorney Scott Bookstein said his client is a "wonderful family man." So what was Cannela doing following motorcades at JFK into secure areas on a weekend when both the pope and world leaders were in New York City? Bookstein said his client likely wanted a blessing from the pontiff because he had lost a niece to cancer.
Cannela's next hearing is October 13. Bookstein said he is going to try to get Cannela out before then because he said his client is not a threat or a flight risk.