According to McGann, the watch is a work of art, created to look like a timer with switches, wires and fuses. However, security officers were alarmed on seeing this work of art on Thursday night, and immediately called in the bomb squad to inspect the gadget, while taking McGann into custody.
Within five minutes, the bomb squad arrived on the scene at Oakland International Airport. Despite the fact that the bomb squad determined that the watch was harmless, McGann was taken to the nearest prison and was charged with possession of materials to make an explosive device.
Sgt. J.D. Nelson, spokesman for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, told the Associated Press that the man had “all the components” to make an “improvised explosive device,” minus the explosive material.
After his arrest, McGann was questioned about other "suspicious" belongings. “When you add it all up, it didn’t add up,” Nelson told the Los Angeles Times
Officials were concerned about his unusually large shoe size. According to Nelson, McGann's UGG boots, which were two sizes larger than his feet, were stuffed with layers of insoles. He said this was an ideal place to store explosives. McGann explained that he wore the padded shoes to appear taller.
Nelson was also concerned that McGann had no checked baggage, that his carry-on luggage contained no clothing and that he was wearing a military-style shirt and tourniquet bands. McGann explained that he brought little luggage, as he was returning from a business day trip.
McGann also explained that he considered his watch a work of art, but his explanations fell on rocky ground. The security screening area was temporarily closed while the area was secured, flights were delayed by about 20 minutes and McGann was arrested.
McGann was released on $150,000 bail on Saturday.
Douglas Horngrad said TSA agents overreacted when they saw his client’s appearance, wearing modified UGG boots and military clothing, combined with the strange watch.
“Mr. McGann is innocent,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle
on Monday. “He posed no threat to anyone at any time and he meant no threat to anyone at any time. Mr. McGann is an artist and art teacher. Some artists are eccentric, and sometimes act eccentrically … He is not an activist or a terrorist.”
"It's something for TSA to be vigilant, but it's something else to be hyper-vigilant," he added.
Alameda County prosecutors declined to file charges on Monday after the case received widespread media attention.