UPDATE: Scene clear after bomb scare at Aiken Co. hotel

By: Chad Mills Email
By: Chad Mills Email

Thursday, April 18, 2013

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW) -- Aiken County deputies are clearing the scene of a suspicious situation at a hotel on Whiskey Road.

The Sheriff's Office said there were two gas tanks and one oxygen tank under a Ford Expedition SUV in the Country Inn and Suites parking lot. One of the tanks was suspiciously wedged under the vehicle's tires. There was also suspicion about the vehicle's tag, which was expired and out of state.

However, investigators have now learned those tanks belong to workers who were on site but had to leave and could not take the tanks with them.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division brought in robots to help with the investigation.

The Sheriff's Office got the call around 8:20 a.m. Both Sheriff Michael Hunt and Aiken Public Safety Police Chief Charles Barranco were on scene.

As part of the investigation, deputies shut down the entrance of the Hunters Glen neighborhood nearby. They also shut down part of Whiskey Road, but it was back open around 12:30 p.m.

"I think folks are very vigilant right now. Their heightened awareness is at an all-time high. That's good. We want citizens to report stuff to us," Hunt said.

Hunt said the department has treated all of these kinds of threats seriously after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

"One thing we don't do, we don't walk up to suspicious packages or vehicles that we think may be a part of an explosive. We let these bomb folks come do what we're paying them to do," he said.

The Aiken Department of Public Safety, the South Carolina Highway Patrol, the South Carolina State Transport Police and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division assisted the Aiken County Sheriff's Office.

People inside the hotel were not evacuated, but they were moved to the far corner of the building. They were allowed to leave after the scene was clear just past noon.

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