JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (TheBlaze/AP) — The Jacksonville International Airport was shut down for several hours after authorities found two suspicious packages – one they said was destructive – that led to an evacuation. And while police are not confirming reports of two arrests related to the incident, local media is saying two men are in custody.
The airport was evacuated around 6 p.m. Tuesday after police found a suspicious package in the terminal and another in a nearby parking garage. It reopened just before 11 p.m.
During a late-night news conference, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office spokesman Shannon Hartley said one of the packages “had some destructive nature” and was taken offsite. He did not elaborate.
Still, Hartley also said he could not confirm local media reports that two suspects had been arrested. One such outlet, WJXT-TV, scoured through arrest reports and found that a man named Zeljko Causevic was arrested by Jacksonville airport police and booked at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. His crime? He’s being charged for a false report about planting a bomb or explosive and manufactured possession, sale or delivery of mailing a hoax bomb.
Eyewitness testimony sheds light on the charges. Apparently the man tried to go through security without properly taking off his jacket and shoes. When TSA agents confronted, one witness said she overheard TSA ask him about claiming to have a bomb.
“He was wearing a dark leather jacket. He had dark hair, he was wearing sunglasses, shoes. That was weird, the fact that he was trying to go through with all of that on. He had to take all of that off to get through security. So, it’s kind of scary,” Catherine Swan-Clark told WJXT.
That’s when she overheard the odd conversation.
“The guy apparently, was not cooperating. I mean, I was in the middle of getting patted down and he… all the TSA agents started moving in and I heard one of the agents say, ‘so you’re telling me you have a bomb?’. And the guy said, ‘yes, I have a bomb’,” she said.
Witnesses also told the outlet they saw two men being detained, and that one of them had been escorted off a plane.
Passengers and people who arrived at the airport to pick them up were stranded for hours as officials investigated.
Authorities said some incoming planes were held up on the tarmac until buses arrived to pick up passengers. The passengers were shuttled to nearby hotels.
With the airport reopening late Tuesday, airport spokesman Michael Stewart said individual airlines would determine how to restart their operations. “The airlines will work to ensure all passengers will receive their luggage,” the airport tweeted on its officials Twitter account.
Arlie Gentry was on a Southwest flight arriving from New York via Baltimore just before 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
“We moved from one spot on the runway to another spot,” said Gentry, who was reached on his cell phone while still on the plane. “They told us we couldn’t get off the plane.”
Gentry said the pilots initially told passengers they didn’t know what was going on.
While the delay was cumbersome and bothersome, Gentry said everyone on his plane remained calm. He said he was never really concerned for his safety, because the plane remained so far from the terminal.
Around 9:30 p.m., a bus arrived to take the passengers on Gentry’s flight to a nearby hotel.
He said his sisters had been waiting in the parking lot for several hours and were planning to take him back to Gainesville.