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Suspicious packages shutter airport

Altoona-Blair County terminal reopened after area cleared

MARTINSBURG — State police continue to investigate why three packages that forced the shutdown of the Altoona-Blair County Airport on Friday morning were left in the terminal.

“There’s no explanation at this time,” state police spokesman Trooper Joe Dunsmore said late Friday morning after the airport had reopened for business. “Obviously, this caused a pretty big delay in air traffic and concern from the community, so the investigation remains open, and we want to find out why the packages were left there and who left them there.”

“One of our staffers found them about 6:30 a.m.,” said Altoona-Blair County Manager Tracy Plessinger, who referred questions about the description of the packages to state police.

“Any package that is unattended is considered suspicious,” Plessinger said. “So we called 911, and state police came and took over from there.”

In addition to state police, North Woodbury Township police, Martinsburg Borough police and Martinsburg volunteer firefighters headed to the airport, which is situated in North Woodbury Township, Dunsmore said.

After the airport was evacuated and the perimeter secured, the state police bomb squad examined the packages that Dunsmore said were found in an area on the second floor. No explosive materials were detected, and after responders cleared the facility, the airport reopened by 11 a.m., according to state police.

“I don’t think we had any flights canceled, but there were delays while the airport was closed,” Plessinger said. “They held a plane in Pittsburgh for a little while until the airport was open again.”

Dunsmore said he could not indicate exactly where the packages were found nor confirm earlier reports that they were found in a bathroom.

The incident also forced Magisterial District Judge Andrew Blattenberger’s office, which is located in the building, to close. It reopened at 11 a.m.

The investigation into the circumstances around how and why the packages were left in the terminal remains ongoing, Dunsmore said. And despite the inconvenience to the community, he described the outcome as good with everyone doing what they were supposed to do given the circumstances of the situation.

“An abundance of caution is the phrase that’s used in a case like this,” Plessinger said.

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