CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The owner of a device with a suspicious battery that prompted an evacuation of portions of the Charleston International Airport early Friday morning was questioned, released and was rebooked on his flight.
"We found a suspicious device this morning around 5 a.m. It was suspicious enough that we called in EOD to look at it. We took all the precautions in the world," Charleston County Aviation Authority Executive Director and CEO Paul Campbell said. "Everything went off exactly as the protocol called for."
TSA agents determined an iPad in a screening machine appeared suspicious, according to a statement from the airport. As a result, screening operations were halted and passengers waiting to go through the checkpoint were asked to evacuate the building while airport police and the Charleston County Sheriff's Office Bomb Squad were called in to investigate.
The iPad was removed and its owner was detained for questioning.
After an investigation by the TSA, the FBI and the Charleston County Sheriff's Office, the bomb squad determined the device was not a threat.
The owner of the device, who was held for questioning, was released and rebooked on his flight, Campbell said.
After a nearly two-hour delay, the airport resumed operations at approximately 7 a.m.
Campbell released the following statement on the incident:
"Safety is always our first priority. We are not going to sacrifice safety for any reason. I am pleased with how everything was handled this morning. I applaud the passengers who responded appropriately. No one panicked and they evacuated in an orderly fashion. Our police responded quickly and did a great job assisting our passengers and securing the area so the Bomb Squad could do its work. TSA and CHS did a terrific job responding to the incident and afterward worked efficiently to screen passengers so they could resume their travels."
After the scare, the entrance to the airport reopened and traffic that backed up past Boeing because of the incident has begun to move again.
Passengers reported that they were taken back out through security with many waiting on a parking deck while authorities investigated the package.
TSA lines moved quickly as passengers re-entered.
A witness on-scene, Sandy Messer, said she was getting ready to go through security Friday morning when she saw people coming out.
"We just moved outside to the parking deck," she said.
Another viewer, Chris, said he was dropping off his cousin at the airport.
"Basically all the sudden we just heard 'code black' come over an intercom," he said. "Then all the sudden the shops started closing down. Security started pushing people outside."
He said while passengers were forced to wait outside, some gave their jackets to others waiting in the cold.
Charleston County dispatchers said the call came in at 5:23 a.m. Multiple Charleston County deputies were headed toward the airport on International Boulevard as well.
Below is a Facebook Live report from the scene.