Law & Order
6:53 pm
Tue October 1, 2013

Man Arrested For Bomb Hoax at JIA

UPDATED 12:45 p.m.

Wednesday afternoon, things slowly started returning to normal at Jacksonville International Airport after the airport was evacuated and shut down for 5 hours Tuesday night.

Police arrested Zeljko Causevic, 39, and charged him with falsely reporting a bomb and having a hoax bomb. The suspect is a US citizen from Bosnia and is expected to make his first appearance in court at 1:00p.m. Wednesday.

Jacksonville Aviation Authority spokesman Michael Stewart says Tuesday evening Causevic walked up to a security guard and announced that he had a bomb in his camouflage backpack.

“He described the device as a luggage scale containing two flat, round batteries and a microchip inside,” he said.

Arrest reports show Causevic also had a remote control device which he described as a detonator.

Police also arrested a second man they say was acting suspiciously. He’s charged with resisting an officer and investigators do not believe he was connected to the bomb threat.

All passengers are encouraged to call ahead to check the status of their flight before heading to the airport.

We're not expecting new details to come as quickly as this morning, so this will be our last post on the live blog. We'll continue to update this story with new posts on WJCTNews.org

UPDATED 9:20 a.m. Jacksonville Aviation Authority head Michael Stewart has confirmed two men have been charged in relation to yesterday's evacuation.

The second man, Manuel Rivera, was charged with resisting arrest without violence after being stopped for acting suspiciously. Officials do not believe he is connected to the bomb threat.

"First responders acted swiftly and appropriately," Stewart said at a 9 a.m. press briefing.

According to the arrest reports Zeljko Causevic, charged with making a false threat and possession of a hoax bomb, is a Jacksonville resident originally from Serbia. Both men are slated to appear in court this afternoon.

"This is one of most significant reactions to an event that caused us to have to evacuate the entire terminal," Stewart said.

CORRECTION: In a previous version of this story the charge against Manuel Rivera was stated incorrectly. He is charged with "resisting arrest without violence."

UPDATED 8:45 a.m. — According to the arrest report,  Zeljko Causevic described the device in his bag as "a luggage scale." He also had a remote control device he called a "detonator."

He also told investigators device was, "supposed to be a bomb, but it's not."

UPDATED 8:15 a.m. —  Aviation Authority Police Lt. Mark Stevens says  Zeljko Causevic was going through security and told authorities he had a bomb. He was arrested at that time.

He is charged with false report of bomb and possession of hoax bomb.

A media briefing is scheduled for 9 a.m.

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Security at Jacksonville International Airport on Wednesday morning.
Credit Karen Feagins / WJCT

UPDATED 7:50 a.m. — Jacksonville Aviation Authorities are confirming this morning that one arrest has been made related to the evacuation.

According to our news partner News4Jax, Zeljko Causevic is charged with a falsely reporting planting a bomb or explosive and manufactured possession, sale or delivery of mailing a hoax bomb.

Meanwhile, At least five flights this morning are canceled with many more delays. There is more information from the airport expected at a 9 a.m. briefing.

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JIA reopens after "dangerous device" found - Kevin Meerschaert

UPDATED 11:13 p.m. — Jacksonville International Airport has reopened after Jacksonville Sheriff's Office officials say a device was removed to be rendered safe off site.

Officials provided no additional information on the device and didn't say whether any arrests have been made.

"We had to react, we did, and we erred on the side of caution," said Michael Stewart of the Jacksonville Aviation Authority.

Airport personnel and TSA agents will assist travelers with retrieving luggage left at the airport. Flights will resume at the discretion of the airlines.

The investigation into how and when the device was brought into the airport is ongoing.

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UPDATED 10:30 p.m. — A news conference scheduled for 10:30 has been postponed until 11 p.m.

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UPDATED 9:15 p.m. — Our news partner News4Jax posted this video shot by travelers Janet and Jamie Taylor on the tarmac  showing agents removing a man from their plane.

As of the last update by JSO there is no official word on anyone being detained or arrested.

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UPDATED 8:50 p.m. — At an 8:30 p.m. press conference, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office says travelers who were already boarded on flights and on the tarmac have been evacuated and sent to local hotels.

They had no information on any potential arrests, but said they have located the two suspicious packages and the bomb squad is sweeping the airport and parking garage.

Passengers wait outside Jacksonville International Airport.
Credit News4Jax

There is no timeline for how long the search might take, but officials did note that it may take some time due to the size of the facility.

Meanwhile, an airport employee who was there when it was evacuated says he and his co-workers saw two people detained by TSA agents with a possible third person also detained on an outgoing flight.

Eight-year airport employee Andrew Knutson is a bartender at Chili's Too.

At around 6:30 p.m., Knutson says, TSA started stopping all arriving passengers and told all airport merchants to begin evacuating.

He said co-workers told him a man was detained at the security checkpoint, and another man was detained in front of him on his way to the parking garage.

Knutson said the second man was "tackled and handcuffed" by TSA agents just beside him on a ramp leading to the parking garage.

His co-workers also indicated a package may have been found in the parking garage.

When asked whether he's seen anything like this before while on the job in the airport, Knutson said it was "not even close" to any previous security incidents.

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UPDATED 7:47 p.m. — At a 7:30 p.m. news conference, the Jacksonville Aviation Authority reports two suspicious packages were found at JIA. One was in the terminal and another in the parking garage. JIA is closed and there is no timeline for reopening. All incoming flights are being diverted and anyone with plans to fly out of Jacksonville should call their airline for updates.

***

According to the Jacksonville Aviation Authority, JIA has been evacuated while the Jacksonville Sheriff's investigates reports of a suspicious package.

Our reporter, Kevin Meerschaert is on the way and we will post updates as soon as they are available.