Saturday, April 21, 2018
Public safety

Jacksonville airport reopens after 'destructive' device 'rendered safe'

JACKSONVILLE — Jacksonville International Airport was evacuated and closed for five hours Tuesday after police found two suspicious packages, including one authorities said "had to be rendered safe."

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office spokesman Shannon Hartley told a news conference Tuesday night that one had a "destructive" component that required it to be taken offsite. He said the device was later "rendered safe."

Incoming planes full of passengers were stuck on the tarmac while a bomb squad from the Sheriff's Office investigated.

Police found one of the packages in the terminal and another in a nearby parking garage around 6 p.m., airport spokesman Michael Stewart said.

"It was determined that because of the seriousness of the situation that they would evacuate the terminal," he said.

There were no reports of injuries or damage. Jacksonville police blocked off the entrance to the airport until it reopened around 11 p.m.

Local news media reported the sheriff's office had arrested two suspects, but Stewart said he could not confirm that.

When authorities decided to shut down the airport, incoming planes were held up on the tarmac until buses could pick up the passengers and take them to offsite hotels, Stewart said.

At least one plane was preparing to depart at the time of the evacuation, but Stewart did not know if it already had pulled away from the gate. No flights were allowed to take off during the evacuation.

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