Charleston airport reopens after suspicious package prompts evacuation

Updated: Nov. 11, 2020 at 6:34 PM EST
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Officials at the Charleston International Airport say they received word Wednesday afternoon that people could return to the airport after a suspicious package forced an evacuation Wednesday morning.

Airport spokesman Spencer Pryor confirmed shortly before 2 p.m. that passengers received the all-clear to return to the airport.

Airport officials say TSA agents found a package that could be a threat at approximately 11:15 a.m.

“TSA officials determined an evacuation of the terminal was necessary and employees along with passengers were evacuated,” Pryor said in a statement. “The suspicious package was removed from the terminal area and members of the Charleston County Bomb Squad arrived on scene to inspect the item.”

Pryor said they gave the all clear at approximately 1:30 p.m. and the terminal reopened.

The package was not a bomb or an explosive device, Pryor said, but airport officials still have not provided details about exactly what the package contained.

Charleston International Airport CEO Elliott Summey said TSA agents thought the package could be "a potential threat” but did not elaborate.

Shortly after the evacuation, FlightAware posted an alert stating that all incoming flights to the Charleston International Airport were being held at their point of origin until 2 p.m. “due to security.”

Charleston passenger Zach Ritter said he was arriving ahead of a flight to Atlanta and as soon as he got out of an Uber vehicle, he was met with TSA agents telling them to go to the parking garage.

“That’s where we stayed for a few hours,” he said. “Finally, we saw a TSA agent start to move back inside and they let us in.”

The Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority said Route 11 was detouring around the airport because the ongoing situation and standing down any extra time at the Tanger stop. From the layover, CARTA says instead of taking the right onto International Boulevard to service the airport, Route 11 drivers are taking a left and continuing on their normal route.

Deputies from Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester Counties, members of the North Charleston and Charleston County Aviation Authority Police and agents with the State Law Enforcement Division assisted in the investigation, Pryor said.

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