By JASMINE ANDERSON, WEAR
PENSACOLA, Fla. (WEAR) - A suspicious item was located inside a checked bag at Pensacola International Airport Tuesday morning. Shortly before 9 a.m., a bomb squad determined that the device, which authorities say is a ball bearing tester used in wind turbines, was not an explosive.
"I did see a photo of the device and it was alarming of how close it could look to what would be a pipe bomb. That's why things were done the way they were, that's why flights were stopped," said Pensacola Police Department spokesperson Officer Mike Wood.
Wood said there was a communication barrier between authorities and the individual who checked the bag. The passenger, who is from South Korea, told authorities during the questioning what the device was and an interpreter was able to verify, Wood said. The passenger was in town for a business trip, as there are wind turbine manufacturing plants near Pensacola.
Wood said a TSA agent had located the cylindrical device inside luggage around 6:30 a.m. The device was taken away from the terminal area until it could be examined. The Bay County bomb squad responded, investigated and determined it was not an explosive device.
"The device was located this morning in checked baggage. It was suspicious in nature to the TSA, so the person that checked that bag was pulled to the side and questioned by law enforcement, which is standard procedure. All in- and out-bound flights were suspended until we could find out what this device was, and now the officials from the bomb squad have determined that it is not an explosive device, it is a safe device, and all flights have resumed," said Wood.
Alicia Balenici was headed to Baltimore when she was told her flight would not go out.
"We were just about ready to board when we got the announcement. There really wasn't any scare or emergency. There was no mention of a package. None of the attendants were really telling us anything like that," she said.
Lt. Gary Creel with the Pensacola Fire Department said his agency was ready to go and take care of any type of issue that it faced. The agency recently completed a mass casualty training a few weeks back.
"All the agencies that came into play worked very well together and it was a joint effort among all of them to make sure that we maintained a safe environment and kept everybody calm and collected all throughout this process," Creel said.
The Pensacola Police Department, Pensacola Fire Department, Florida Department of Law Enforcement and State Fire Marshal's Office all responded.
Airport operations have since returned to normal.
Three were detained and questioned in relation to the incident. There will be no charges, according to Wood.
Suspicious item located in checked bag at Pensacola airport. All inbound and outbound flights have stopped for the time being. Check with your airline for further info. Media staging is outside at north end of terminal— Pensacola Police (@PensacolaPolice) March 27, 2018