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Local TV news affected by military security

March 28, 2003
Sprinfield News-Leader

News Van Raises Concern at Fort
Wires under KYTV vehicle result in call to bomb squad, gate closure.

The KYTV news van had passed through the gates of Fort Leonard Wood several times.

But Tuesday, guards conducting a routine inspection of the vehicle before it entered the Army post noticed wires coming from a box underneath and called the bomb squad.

After three hours, officials determined the box was a charcoal canister for emissions control, said Jeff Benscoter, news director.

"As far as the MPs were concerned, all they saw was some wires under there and a shoe(box)-sized box -- which is never good," said Michael Warren, deputy director of public affairs for the post. "Everyone who responded to the incident did the right thing. They maintained the safety of everyone in vicinity and kept the area clear just in case there was something bad."

The main gates were closed to traffic for three hours -- the longest they've been shut in at least seven years. Traffic ground to a halt outside the gate; Waynesville school buses had to be rerouted to one of three other entrances open to traffic, Warren said.

A reporter and photographer from KYTV arrived at the post at 1:45 p.m. for a visit about chemical weapons training. They got out of the vehicle -- all cell phones and camera equipment had to be left behind -- while guards searched it. The box was discovered with a tool that uses a mirror to view beneath vehicles.

Officials at KYTV called cell phone and radio companies trying to figure out what the box was, Benscoter said.

Eventually, post officials tapped a man from the local Pontiac dealership, who brought blueprints of the vehicle to determine what the item was. "This was not an anti-news thing or anything else," Benscoter said. "They were concerned and in this heightened state of alert, I can't blame them."