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iPad blamed for Charleston International Airport suspicious package evacuation

Airport Evacuation (WCIV)

Officials say there was nothing dangerous or harmful about an iPad tablet that prompted an hours-long precautionary shutdown and evacuation of Charleston International Airport Friday morning.

A man was detained by Charleston County authorities and his iPad seized, after security officials thought they noticed something odd about the tablet during an X-ray scan, airport officials say.

After an investigation by the TSA, the FBI and the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office, officials determined the iPad was not a threat. It was released back to its owner, and the man was allowed to board his flight, an airport spokesperson says.

The alarm went up shortly after 5 a.m., and flight operations were halted as portions of the airport were evacuated. Many passengers wound up in a parking garage 350 yards away from the area where the iPad was found.

Paul Campbell, CEO of Charleston County Aviation Authority, says the device was discovered during normal security checks, and the man it belonged to was immediately detained.

"It didn't look exactly right, so we aired on the side of caution," Campbell said. "We apologize for the delays, but we're not going to sacrifice safety for any reason, any reason at all."

Adam Taylor, a passenger who was leaving Charleston for Philadelphia, said their was some annoyance among passengers over missed flights, but that he thought airport staff handled the evacuation very well.

"I'd rather them catch something than not catch something," said Taylor, who arrived at the airport shortly after 5 a.m. with his family, and was promptly evacuated. "They did a good job getting us out in a calm manner. There was no panic or anything like that.

Campbell described the evacuation and investigation as "perfect."

"It worked just exactly like we draw it out," Campbell said. "When we found that suspicious device, everybody did exactly like they were supposed to do. Everybody responded appropriately. We had no panic."

Campbell initially described the device as a laptop, based on preliminary information he'd been provided.

The airport resumed normal operations shortly after 7 a.m., a spokesperson says.

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