5:15 p.m. update:

Two Bay County Sheriff's Office bomb squad members approached the pressure cooker, examined it, took photos of it, removed the lid and then walked away carrying it.

 

5 p.m. update:

The Bay County Sheriff's Office bomb squad has arrived and is working on what appears to be a pressure cooker left under an oak tree in the parking lot.

The device has been x-rayed, according to witnesses at the scene.

Destin Fire Department District Chief Kevin Sasser said officials are taking the possible threat seriously.

"You never know," he said. "We should take all reports very seriously. Because of other events that have occurred with pressure cookers, we're not going to take any chances with this."

Homemade bombs made from pressure cookers were used in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings that killed three and injured hundreds of others.

Sasser said they set up a perimeter of more than 250 feet around the device until it could be investigated by the bomb squad.

"In the event something happens, we have a clear zone so nobody gets hurt," he said.

Traffic has backed up in both directions and side roads are also congested, with motorists attempting to detour around the traffic and the highway closure.

Sasser said that even if turns out not to be a bomb, the discovery of a pressure cooker will warrant an intensive law enforcement investigation.

"If it's a live device or not, law enforcement will be looking into it," he said. "Backpacks are being left, we understand that. We even get PVC pipes sometimes. But a pressure cooker, that just doesn't make sense."

 

 

4:15 p.m. update:

The McDonalds at 895 Harbor Boulevard has been evacuated as a precaution, as authorities wait for a bomb squad out of Panama City to arrive.

A package was discovered in the parking lot of the Destin Target just before 2 p.m. The store has not been evacuated, since the package is closer to the highway than the store.

It's not known when the bomb squad from the Bay County Sheriff's Office is expected to arrive, according to Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office spokewoman Michele Nicholson.

All four lanes of U.S. Highway 98 have been shut down and traffic is being diverted.

In the past 15 years, bomb squads have been called to inspect and neutralize a number of suspicious packages, none of which turned out to be explosive. In some cases, the packages contained devices designed to look like bombs.

In May of 2016, Lovejoy Road in Fort Walton Beach was closed for hours after a box that turned out to have an unknown substance and wires inside.

In January of 2016, a briefcase left outside of a building in Walton County set off alarms. The bomb squad approached and opened the suitcase, which turned out to be empty, according to news accounts.

In June of 2015, a suspicious package found in the lobby of the Okaloosa County Health Department forced the evacuation of the building and rerouted traffic. In that case, the owner of the backpack arrived at the same time as the bomb squad.

The discovery of a package behind a store at Silver Sands Factory Stores led to a portion of the mall being cordoned off. Nothing suspicious was found in the package.

In 2008, someone mailed a box containing a beer can and an energy drink can stuffed with copper wire to the Ponce de Leon City Hall.

That was also the year that the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team from Eglin Air Force Base blew up a briefcase left in the parking lot of Food World. The briefcase contained personal items, authorities said.

And in 2004, packages addressed to "Billy Boy and Hillary Clinton" and former President Jimmy Carter left outside of the Fort Walton Beach Post Office led authorities to a Niceville woman, who put a return address label on her packages. She said she'd expected to get caught.

The boxes contained stuffed animals and CD's.

"It looked suspicious, extremely suspicious," she said. "You never know in this day and age."

And in 2002, authorities responding to reports of a suspicious package in the grass behind a telephone pole in Miramar Beach. The package turned out to be that day's edition of the Daily News.

 

 

 

4 p.m. update:

Authorities are closing U.S. Highway 98 between Main Street and Gulf Shore Drive in Destin due to a suspicious package found around 2 p.m. in the Target parking lot.

Stores have not been evacuated, however the package was found in an area of the parking lot near the highway.

Crews are waiting for a bomb squad from the Bay County Sheriff's Office to arrive and inspect the package.

Traffic is being diverted but motorists should expect major delays in the Destin area.

Westbound traffic is being diverted to Airport Road, while eastbound traffic is being directed to Main Street.

 

3 p.m.: 

A bomb squad from the Bay County Sheriff's Office is on its way to check out a "suspicious package" found in the parking lot of the Target store.

The package was spotted around 2 p.m.

Personnel from the Destin Fire Department and Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office cordoned off an area around the package until it could be safely inspected.

No stores have been evacuated.