Peoria Airport suspicious item was abortion clinic training device, woman says

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No charges will be filed against a 38-year-old woman after a suspicious item was found in her carry-on bag at Peoria International Airport. (WLS)

No charges will be filed against a 38-year-old woman after a suspicious item was found in her carry-on bag at Peoria International Airport.

The airport was evacuated and closed for hours after authorities found what they thought was a bomb. But now there are charges that authorities overreacted.

The x-ray picture that caused such a frenzy showed the picture of a fake bomb. At 6:30 a.m. Transportation Security Administration officers discovered the tubes, wires and metal parts and two items labeled "dynamite."

They took it seriously, clearing and closing the airport. The organization that owns the training equipment says they took it too far.

"It doesn't get any more realistic than this. Everybody's response was exactly what it should have been. This was from what you see on the x-ray, from what everyone saw inside the bag, everyone thought this was an actual bomb so the response was perfect," said Gene Olson, Peoria Airport Director.

The response was to empty the airport, backing up traffic and passengers for hours.

Even though what was inside the checked bag contained no explosives. These dummy sticks even labeled dynamite, purposely so they would appear like something from a popular kid's cartoon.

It was training equipment used by security experts at the National Abortion Federation in Washington, equipment that the organization's president Vicki Saporta says no one should mistake the training equipment for a real bomb because it's designed to be identified as a training device and not made to resemble anything dangerous.

But as the airport was being evacuated, Peoria County Sheriff's Deputies detained the traveler who had checked that bag, a security employee of the NAF who uses the equipment to train abortion providers on how to protect against attacks.

"TSA is to be commended as well as everyone else for picking this up...that looks entirely like a bomb," said Peoria County Sheriff Michael McCoy.

The 38-year-old passenger from Maryland, was not charged and she was released this morning. Officials of her organization say similar training equipment is routinely transported without problems.

This comes as security screeners across the nation have seen a spike in passengers trying to bring fake grenades, bombs and even mock-suicide vests onto planes along with thousands of real, loaded guns showing up at airports during a time when terror attacks are a real concern.

General Wayne Downing Airport in Peoria is named after a former director of U.S. Counterterrorism. Tonight operations at his namesake airport are back to normal.

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