Suspicious Package Grounds PIA Flights

Mar 31, 2016

Peoria County Sheriff's Deputies depart PIA after this morning's incident involving a suspicious package.
Credit Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio

Updated at 12:00 PM

The Peoria International Airport was on heightened alert Thursday morning, after TSA officials found a suspicious package, before 7am.  

A TSA screener x-ray showed what appeared to be three sticks of dynamite and a mason jar filled with liquid, in an unmarked checked bag, the Peoria County Sheriff said.

The sticks were actually dog toys that belong to 38 year-old Michelle Davidson who reports using them in security training.  

 Davidson tells police she's flown with the device before. Her employer is the National Abortion Federation and her supervisor confirmed her explanation. The supervisor also reportedly told police they used to send the device through US Mail. But they say, postal workers would explode the device when they found it and finally asked the company to have their staff taking it with them in their travels.  

Peoria County Sheriff Mike McCoy says Davidson was in route to Washington D.C. via a Dallas flight and that further raised concern about the image of the contents in her bag. He says the safety measures taken transpired exactly as they should have.

Peoria County Sheriff Michael McCoy and Peoria International Airport spokesman Gene Olson briefed the media, a few hours after the suspicious luggage was screened. McCoy (right) referenced the scanned image that revealed ominous objects.
Credit Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio

“The TSA is to be commended as well as everyone else for picking this up. Because that looks entirely like a bomb,” McCoy said. 

Sheriff McCoy says  police release Davidson and no charges will be filled. 

Airport Director Gene Olson says Peoria Police bomb squad was dispatched shortly after the TSA notice was sent. The FBI also participated in the response efforts. Olson concurs, that everyone responded appropriately to ensure public safety.  

The Dallas flight the woman was boarding was delayed as was another flight. An inbound Allegiant Flight was also diverted for a short time. In all, the airport was on partial evacuation and shutdown for about three hours.

The all-clear signal was issued around 9:40am, allowing passengers, flights and road traffic to resume as normal.  

A copy of the X ray detailing the contents inside of the bag that stopped travel at the Peoria Airport for about three hours.
Credit Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio