(NEW YORK) — The FBI and a police bomb squad were dispatched to Peoria International Airport Thursday morning after a TSA agent spotted what appeared to be an explosive device in a passenger’s checked luggage, sparking a three-hour evacuation, authorities said.
The apparatus – comprised of an aerosol can, three sticks labeled “dynamite,” and a liquid-filled mason jar – was later determined to be a training device used to teach abortion clinic employees to recognize suspicious packages, the Peoria County Sheriff’s Department said. The three long tubes labeled “dynamite” were actually “fetch toys for dogs,” the department said in a statement.
The items that looked like dynamite on X-rays at the airport today are dog toys used to train people about dynamite pic.twitter.com/0KhuX6yyGa
— PCSO Illinois (@PCSO1) March 31, 2016
The passenger, a National Abortion Federation security staffer, was located at her gate and sequestered in an airport conference room, airport spokesperson Gene Olson told ABC. She was questioned and released without charges, the sheriff’s office said.
According to Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Joe Needham, the woman, who had affixed a hand-written note to the item indicating it was used for training, told police she had flown with the items before.
“She needs to find a better way to transport that stuff,” said Needham. “We’re fortunate that it was not a real bomb.”
National Abortion Federation spokesperson Vicki Saporta tells ABC that the group has never had an issue with training devices at the airport before, but will now review their protocols.
“We want to be able to continue to train clinic staff to make sure they are as secure a possible, but we certainly don’t want to pose any undo concern to law enforcement or have them divert resources into investigating training materials,” Saporta said.
“We work regularly with law enforcement and have tremendous respect for them,” she added. “Today, they were doing their job. We were doing ours.”
Nearly three hours after the bag was discovered, the airport sounded the all-clear.
“If there’s a silver lining, it’s that this was a great rehearsal,” Olson said. “Everybody thought this was real, everybody responded as if it was real, and everything worked perfectly.”
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