By Philip Jankowski
Killeen Daily Herald
Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport was put on lockdown Monday morning for about two hours after a fake bomb used for educational purposes was found unattended in a rental truck.
One man was detained and released in connection with the incident. Killeen Police Department Commander Margaret Young said the device recovered was an aid used by explosives experts that had inadvertently been left in the back seat of a rental vehicle.
An employee of Enterprise-Rent-A-Car found the training aid in the back seat of a truck about 10:30 a.m. Monday. The employee, Theresa Martinez, said a man who she believed to be a construction contractor turned in a silver 2011 Chevrolet Silverado to the rental car agency prior to boarding a flight.
Young said the man was unaware the explosive aid had been left in the truck. The previous lessee, an explosives instructor, accidentally left it in the vehicle.
Martinez found the device while cleaning the truck, she said. She described it as an object about the size of a cantaloupe that appeared to be three devices wired together.
One object had the appearance of a cigar tube, though it was Army green. She said one of the devices looked similar to a grenade. Blue rope held the three objects together, and Martinez said the three objects were linked by wires.
Martinez said she was not scared, but rather surprised by finding the object.
"I was more shocked than scared and confused. At first I thought maybe it was a little toy," she said.
She then notified a KPD officer and a Transportation Security Administration employee. After they approached the vehicle, Martinez was told to get back.
The man who had just returned the Silverado was removed from his flight, and the airport was placed on lockdown for about two hours.
Fort Hood Emergency Ordnance Disposal determined the device was not an explosive.
"It appeared to be an explosive device; however, it was lacking all of the necessary components," Young said during a press briefing after the airport reopened.
During the lockdown, no flights or people were allowed in or out of the airport. The main lobby was evacuated as staff and passengers were moved to the second story of the airport for safety reasons.
Martinez said passengers seemed confused, but acted calmly while authorities corralled them in the upper area of the airport where flight gates are located.
Scores of cars lined up on Clear Creek Road outside the entrance to the airport.
As he waited outside the entrance, Randy Ploeckelmann said he had heard reports of bomb-sniffing dogs canvassing the airport. Martinez also said she had seen bomb-sniffing dogs during the lockdown.
At 12:35 p.m. the airport re-opened. The lockdown led to delays for four flights affecting 171 passengers, according to city of Killeen spokeswoman Hillary Shine.
Contact Philip Jankowski at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7553. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcrime.