BUNCOMBE CO., NC (WSPA) – Police have identified and are looking for a person of interest after part of Asheville Regional Airport was evacuated after an explosive device was found Friday morning.
The suspicious package was discovered outside on the curb of Terminal Drive near baggage claim at about 6:30 a.m on Friday.
Officials say the package was an explosive device that was rendered safe by the Hazardous Device Team and removed.
Terminal Drive was temporarily closed, and baggage claim and the lobby were evacuated due to the package.
“I’ve flown out here several times and its always felt really safe,” said Ashley Kuykendall on Friday evening after walking out of the rental car office. “I would never think that anything like that would happen here.”
Shortly before 9:00 a.m. Friday, a spokeswoman said the airport is under normal operations and the terminal and drive had both reopened.
“It’s very shocking for here, just thinking about how safe it is here to travel and how free people are to roam about,” said Edith Gwaltney, a passenger who had just returned home from Ireland.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Asheville Regional Airport Police Department, the Asheville Police Department’s bomb squad, and the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation responded to the scene.
The FBI says they will collect evidence on the scene, including surveillance video from the airport, to identify the person(s) responsible for leaving the package.
Police say they are looking for a person of interest who has been identified as 46-year-old Michael Christopher Estes. They say he was seen in multiple locations along Airport Road since Tuesday.
Estes has brown hair and brown eyes. He is 5’7″ tall and weighs around 200 pounds. He has multiple tattoos on his arms and wrists.
Anyone with information on his location is asked to call 911 or Crime Stoppers at 828-255-5050. Police say do not approach him.