Updated: No Charges Filed Against McGann for Weird Watch

The attorney said his client, a Rancho Palos Verdes resident, "acted consistently with his character" and his watch was not a bomb trigger.

Editor's Note: This article was updated at 6:15 p.m. on Monday to reflect that prosecutors declined to bring charges against McGann.

No charges will be filed against Geoffrey McGann, the Rancho Palos Verdes man whose unusual watch led to his arrest on suspicion of possessing materials that could be used to make a destructive device.

McGann, 49, was taken into custody Thursday after he allegedly tried to pass his homemade watch—which police said resembled a bomb trigger—through an x-ray checkpoint at Oakland International Airport.

McGann and his attorney, Douglas Horngrad, said they argued that the watch was merely a piece of art that McGann had also gifted to friends, colleagues and family.  Horngrad also said that his client is an eccentric artist—not a terrorist-- and that there are "innocent explanations" for McGanns actions.

"Mr. McGann is an artist and art teacher ... Some artists are eccentric, and sometimes act eccentrically," Horngrad said in a written statement. "On the afternoon of his arrest, Mr. McGann acted consistently with his character, which is that of a commercial artist and teacher ... He is not an activist or a terrorist."

  • Previously: Weird Watch Suspect from RPV Released

Alameda County Sheriff's Department spokesman Sgt. J.D. Nelson told Patch on Sunday that McGann's watch contained materials that could be used as a triggering device for an IED.

"It had a toggle switch; it had fuses on it; it had a circuit board; it had wires that protruded from it," Nelson said. Police also said the watch was set to the wrong time.

However, Horngrad said that McGann's watch was simply an art piece and that his client did not have the capability or materials to detonate any explosives.

"The materials used to compose Mr. McGann's watch could be used for any number of things. In this case, they composed an art piece," said Horngrad. "The truth is that any kind of device that keeps time can be used in the making of a trigger for a bomb ... Mr. McGann's handcrafted watch is more art piece than timepiece. It is not a device for anything else that has been suggested."

Police also said that at the time of his arrest, McGann was wearing boots that were two sizes too big and were stuffed with layers of homemade insoles. According to Nelson, the insoles created cavities in the shoes where items could be hidden.

Horngrad denied that the shoes were being used by McGann for any nefarious purposes.

"The shoes were, first of all, Uggs," said Horngrad. "Mr. McGann is short and the shoes were a little big and modified to accommodate lifts ... The shoes were meant to accomplish only that."

In addition, Horngrad said that McGann never intended to harm anyone, nor did he have the materials to do so.

"Unfortunately, what Mr. McGann triggered was the security staff's fears of anyone in an airport with extra space in their shoes, coupled with a curious device, a device that will be proven to have no explosive purpose," said Horngrad. "He posed no threat to anyone at any time and he meant no threat to anyone at any time."

While Nelson said that McGann did tell police his watch was art, it still wasn't a good idea to bring it through an airport security checkpoint.

"The issue is, you know, you can make an artwork hand grenade (but) it doesn't mean it's a good idea to bring it to the airport," said Nelson. "I can't quite figure out why somebody would do that."

City News Service also contributed to this report.

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