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'Suspicious devices' at California airport were 'inert practice mortars,' sheriff says

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Posted at 10:18 PM, Apr 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-18 22:18:17-04

The San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport experienced a scare Sunday night when a questionable device was found in the men’s bathroom.

Airport officials had to evacuate everyone in the building after an employee found what looked like mortar rounds in the facility.

“One of our staff members found what appeared to be military-style mortars in the public restroom on the public side of the checkpoint,” said San Luis Obispo Department of Airports Deputy Director Craig Piper.

The device was discovered at 11:20 p.m. on Sunday.

“That person made the immediate notification up the chain,” Piper said. “We contacted the sheriff’s office, they responded, the terminal was evacuated.”

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office released the following statement regarding the incident:

The Sheriff's Office received a report of two suspicious devices located in the public restroom at the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport. The airport was immediately evacuated as a precaution. Members of the San Luis Obispo County Bomb Task Force identified the devices as inert practice mortars and there was no threat to the public. The items were recovered and a search of the airport was conducted. The public and airport employees were allowed back into the airport approximately 30 minutes later.

“Fortunately, it turned out to be a training round and the likelihood is someone in the military or something was traveling, had it in their checked luggage or their carry-on bag, and realized they couldn’t take it with them, didn’t know what to do with it, and deposited it in the men’s restroom,” Piper said.

The terminal was closed for about an hour and one flight was impacted by the search.

Detectives are continuing to investigate the incident.

“It doesn’t appear to be that someone had ill will or an intent on causing harm,” Piper said.

San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport officials want to remind travelers that if they see something, they should say something and report it to airport staff.

This story was originally published by Dusty Baker of KSBY in Santa Barbara-San Luis Obispo, California.