Po­lice search for mo­tive in killing of air­port worker

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Ok­la­homa City po­lice are in­ves­ti­gat­ing why a man waited to gun down an air­line em­ployee out­side Will Rogers World Air­port in a deadly am­bush that forced hun­dreds of trav­el­ers to take shel­ter and prompted au­thor­i­ties to shut down the state’s busiest air­port for hours.

Later Tues­day, po­lice dis­cov­ered the sus­pected shooter dead from an ap­par­ently self-in­flicted gunshot wound in­side a pickup truck in a park­ing garage near where they be­lieve he waited, watch­ing air­port em­ploy­ees come and go be­fore shoot­ing and killing Michael Winch­ester, 52, a South­west Air­lines em­ployee. “We do be­lieve this was a pre­med­i­tated act against the vic­tim,” said Ok­la­homa City Po­lice Capt. Paco Balder­rama. “This was not ran­dom, and ob­vi­ously the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is on­go­ing.”

Re­sum­ing nor­mal op­er­a­tions

Nor­mal op­er­a­tions re­sumed yes­ter­day morn­ing at the air­port after 25 flights were can­celed Tues­day be­cause of the shoot­ing. Balder­rama said late Tues­day that in­ves­ti­ga­tors hadn’t pos­i­tively iden­ti­fied the shooter, but said the man ap­par­ently knew Winch­ester’s sched­ule and rou­tine and that the two men likely knew one an­other. “It’s too early in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion to fig­ure out the ex­act mo­tive,” Balder­rama said. The 1 p.m. shoot­ing set off a scramble at the air­port, with po­lice im­me­di­ately clos­ing the sprawl­ing com­plex and ask­ing pas­sen­gers in­side to seek cover.

They di­verted in­com­ing flights and re­fused to give al­ready-loaded air­craft per­mis­sion to leave. There were con­cerns the gun­man might have en­tered the ter­mi­nal and min­gled among pas­sen­gers or em­ploy­ees. “We have a height­ened level of se­cu­rity all the time. These peo­ple have ac­cess to air­craft so we’re very con­cerned about that,” air­port spokes­woman Karen Car­ney said.

Winch­ester - whose ad­dress is listed as Wash­ing­ton, Ok­la­homa, about 35 miles south of the air­port - was a for­mer Univer­sity of Ok­la­homa foot­ball player whose son James is a player for the Kansas City Chiefs. The NFL team tweeted Tues­day night: “Our love and sup­port is with James and the en­tire Winch­ester fam­ily.”

South­west Air­lines can­celed flights out of the city for the re­main­der of the day even though the rest of the ter­mi­nal re­opened. Hun­dreds of peo­ple were stranded in­side the ter­mi­nal for more than three hours be­fore of­fi­cers be­gan let­ting them leave slowly. Car­ney said about 300 peo­ple were held on air­craft away from the ter­mi­nal after their planes landed ahead of a ground stop.

Po­lice found the sus­pect’s red pickup truck on the sec­ond floor of a public park­ing garage about three hours after the shoot­ing and used a robot to de­ter­mine the sus­pect was dead, then gave an all­clear. The air­port han­dles be­tween 7,000 and 8,000 pas­sen­gers daily for Alaska, Delta, South­west and United air­lines and has a sep­a­rate ter­mi­nal that serves as a trans­fer cen­ter for fed­eral in­mates. A jet car­ry­ing in­mates to the trans­fer site was al­lowed to land while the rest of the air­port was shut­tered.

Video from a tele­vi­sion sta­tion he­li­copter showed what ap­peared to be a pool of blood about 100 feet from the air­port’s em­ployee park­ing area - and about 100 yards from the air­port’s ticket coun­ters and de­par­ture area.

While air­ports have high se­cu­rity, Balder­rama said he didn’t know whether sur­veil­lance cam­eras might show the shoot­ing. Balder­rama ini­tially said po­lice had re­ceived re­ports of a pos­si­ble sec­ond vic­tim, but no one was found. Michael Winch­ester was a punter on the Univer­sity of Ok­la­homa’s 1985 na­tional cham­pi­onship team.

“Our hearts are truly heavy for the en­tire Winch­ester Fam­ily. Mike was a for­mer Sooner stu­dent ath­lete as was his son James/daugh­ter Carolyn,” the school’s ath­letic di­rec­tor, Joe Castiglione, tweeted Tues­day af­ter­noon. He added “daugh­ter Becca was also a stu­dent ath­lete. Please keep this beau­ti­ful fam­ily in your prayers” in a later tweet.

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