No charges expected in 'security investigation' at Charlotte airport

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Several emergency agencies responded to Charlotte-Douglas International Airport on Sunday morning for what officials called a "security investigation."

The FBI and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said they responded to the airport shortly after 10 a.m. after a reported security concern.

In a statement to Channel 9, airport officials said: "There is an investigation of a security incident on board an aircraft. More information to come."

JetBlue later confirmed there were 81 passengers and four crew members aboard at the time of the incident.

>> We first updated WSOCTV news app users with a notification just before 12 p.m. Sunday that a "security investigation" was underway at Charlotte-Douglas. Download the WSOCTV news app for your smartphone and get updates on this developing story as they come in.

Reporter Stephanie Tinoco was there as dozens of people were escorted off the plane and first responders swarmed the aircraft.

Officials said the investigation involved a JetBlue airplane departing from Charlotte, heading to New York Sunday morning.

The FBI said a variety of steps were taken throughout the investigation such as "deplaning passengers and rescreening them."


"The FBI and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department responded to the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport on May 19, 2019, after a reported security concern. A variety of steps were taken out of an abundance of caution including deplaning passengers and rescreening them, along with a thorough search of the JetBlue plane, which was leaving Charlotte for JFK. 

At this time, there are no indications there was a threat to public safety."

A spokesperson from JetBlue also confirmed to Tinoco the flight was "delayed for additional security screenings out of an abundance of caution."

“JetBlue flight 218 scheduled to depart from Charlotte to New York this morning has been delayed for additional security screenings out of an abundance of caution. Local law enforcement is on site and we are working to get customers on their way to New York as soon as possible,” the statement read.

A passenger from Rockingham, North Carolina, David Lathan, called the WSOC-TV newsroom shortly after he exited the plane. He said their plane was taxiing to the runway when they had to stop.

Lathan said the pilot then told the passengers there had been a "bomb threat."

"He said that there's been a bomb threat," Lathan said. "'There's going to be a policeman come up to the door, they're going to open the door. When they do, get your luggage, and exit the airplane.' There's some confusion and I think there's some aggravation the way it was handled -- and a little anxiety."

Channel 9 learned the initial call to police was because of, “suspicious writing on the screen of an in-seat display."

Law enforcement sources said there was not an overt threat written out.

A source within the airline industry told Channel 9 there are strict procedures that flight crews follow based on the threat level and rapid aircraft evacuations are rare.

The investigation put passengers more than seven hours behind schedule.

No charges are expected in the case.

This is an ongoing investigation. Check back with for more information.