Travelers remain vigilant after suspicious package found at Asheville airport
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) —
Travelers at Asheville Regional Airport continue to remain vigilant after a suspicious package containing an explosive was found Friday morning. Many of them are calling the airport officer who spotted the package on the curb by baggage claim a hero.
“I’m very appreciative. As you can imagine, it means that they are, hopefully, staying on top of things,” said Nathan Bittner. “It’s a little surprising that it would happen at such a small airport, that anyone would want to cause casualties here.”
Airport spokeswoman Tina Kinsey said the officer's actions are a testament to training received daily. Once the package was spotted, the officer contacted Asheville police. In a statement released by the department, the device was rendered safe by the Hazardous Device Team and removed from Asheville Regional Airport.
“It’s a little more dangerous of a time than it used to be. People are more scared than they used to be, and I think it’s a good time to keep your eyes and ears open because people try to take advantage of that weakness,” said Bittner.
One section of the airport was evacuated, and some flights were delayed. The airport was given the all-clear within about an hour.
“I’m sure there were some people who were really frightened by it, and I’m always glad to hear when the FBI and police are available to take care of these things,” traveler Margaret Sayers said.
The FBI has taken the lead on the investigation and hasn’t shared details about the explosive. Surveillance video also hasn’t been released.
“The FBI will access anything that is available and will give updates about the investigation,” Kinsey said.
Asheville police have identified the person of interest in the explosive device placed at Asheville Regional Airport on Friday. He has been identified as Michael Christopher Estes, 46. Estes is described as a white male with brown hair and brown eyes. He is 5 feet, 7 inches tall and weighs about 200 pounds. He has multiple tattoos on his arms and wrists.
Anyone with information regarding Estes' whereabouts is asked to call 9-1-1 or CrimeStoppers at 828-255-5050. If you see Estes, please do not approach him and contact 9-1-1 immediately.
The Asheville Police Department, FBI, State Bureau of Investigation and Asheville Regional Airport Police Department are investigating the incident.