Star Simpson was charged with possessing a hoax device today at Logan International Airport for wearing a sweatshirt that had a circuit board affixed to the front with green LED lights and wires running to a 9-volt battery.
By Anna Badkhen, Michael Levenson, and Andrew Ryan, Globe Staff
An MIT student wearing a device on her chest that included lights and wires was arrested at gunpoint at Logan International Airport this morning after authorities thought the contraption was a bomb strapped to her body.
Star Simpson, 19, was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and approached an airport employee in Terminal C at 8 a.m. to inquire about an incoming flight from Oakland, according to Major Scott Pare of the State Police. She was holding a lump of what looked like putty in her hands. The employee asked about the plastic circuit board on her chest, and Simpson walked away without responding, Pare said.
Outside the terminal, Simpson was surrounded by police holding machine guns.
"She was immediately told to stop, to raise her hands, and not make any movement so we could observe all her movements to see if she was trying to trip any type of device," Pare said at a press conference at Logan. "There was obviously a concern that had she not followed the protocol ... we may have used deadly force."
Simpson was arrested, and it was quickly determined that the device was harmless.
"She said it was a piece of art and she wanted to stand out on career day," Pare said. "She was holding what was later found to be playdough."
Affixed to the front of her black sweatshirt was a pale beige circuit board with green LED lights and wires running to a 9-volt battery. Written on the back of the sweatshirt in what appeared to be gold magic marker was the phrase "socket to me" and below that was written "Course VI," which refers to the electrical engineering and computer science program at MIT.
Simpson was charged with possessing a hoax device and was arraigned today East Boston Municipal Court. She was held on $750 cash bail and ordered to return to court Oct. 29.
"Thankfully because she followed our instructions, she ended up in our cell instead of a morgue," Pare said. "Again, this is a serious offense ... I’m shocked and appalled that somebody would wear this type of device to an airport."
According to the MIT website, Simpson is from Kihei, Hawaii, and is a sprinter on the school's swim team. On Simpson's personal website at MIT, she says she is studying computers and enjoys tinkering in a student-run machine shop.
"In a sentence, I'm an inventor, artist, engineer, and student, I love to build things and I love crazy ideas," the website says.