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Suspicious package destroyed at airport

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- The early-morning discovery of a suspicious piece of luggage prompted the shutdown of Southwest Georgia Regional Airport Tuesday and prompted bomb crews to destroy the bag.

After exploding the luggage, police officials determined the bag was harmless, filled with clothing and other non-lethal items.

Airport Director Yvette Aehle said that security officers doing a perimeter check around 4:45 a.m. noticed the luggage positioned near the flagpole between airport parking and the terminal. The facility was evacuated and public safety officials were called, she said.

Aehle said that it appeared that the earliest flight out of Albany Tuesday morning -- set to take off at 6:30 a.m. -- was delayed by the incident, but passengers were loading the plane by 7 a.m.

No other flights were affected, she said.

The Albany Police Department responded with a unit trained to deal with explosives, minus a new bomb dog who is trained to locate explosive devices, APD Spokesperson Phyllis Banks said.

"Boobie is trained to search and locate explosives," Banks said. "As it was explained to me, the suspicious package had already been located."

Aehle said that airport officials had found the bag's owner -- an Albany resident who had rented a car and left the bag when he returned the car Monday night.

"Apparently his friend heard the media coverage and called him up and was like, 'hey, didn't you leave a bag at the airport last night?' And when he called it turned out to be his," Aehle said.