Po­lice: TSA of­fi­cer dead af­ter jump­ing from bal­cony at OIA

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Local - By Tess Sheets Tess Sheets can be reached at [email protected]­lan­dosen­tinel.com or 407-420-5020. Twit­ter: @sheet­s_t­ess

A Trans­porta­tion Se­cu­rity Ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cer died Satur­day af­ter po­lice said he jumped from a Hy­att Re­gency Ho­tel bal­cony into an open area in­side the Or­lando In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

The man, who was in his 40s, had just clocked out of work, TSA spokes­woman Sari Koshetz said. He was in crit­i­cal con­di­tion when po­lice ar­rived and died at a hospi­tal.

“Our thoughts and pray­ers go out to the of­fi­cer’s fam­ily, friends and ev­ery­one in our TSA fam­ily,” Koshetz said in an email.

The in­ci­dent hap­pened about

9:30 a.m. near the east check­point, which fun­nels to gates 70 through

129, air­port spokes­woman Carolyn Fen­nell said in a state­ment.

The sight sent “a wave of screams” through the atrium, Cathy Im­bur­gia, who was in line for TSA PreCheck when the in­ci­dent hap­pened, said.

“There were chil­dren in line,” she said. “It was aw­ful.”

In the en­su­ing chaos, some pas­sen­gers scat­tered into the area be­yond the se­cu­rity check­point, Koshetz said.

Im­bur­gia, of Delaware, said she and oth­ers were ush­ered through se­cu­rity and out of the air­port.

Mean­while, all flights to and from gates 70 through 129 were halted and some pas­sen­gers al­ready on board were asked to de­plane.

South­west Air­lines had can­celed 49 ar­riv­ing flights and 45 de­part­ing flights by Satur­day af­ter­noon, ac­cord­ing to the Greater Or­lando Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity.

“Three hours of chaos” later, af­ter re­turn­ing in­side the packed lobby and through se­cu­rity, Im­bur­gia said she made it to her gate.

Up­stairs, the con­fu­sion sparked ru­mors among ho­tel guests of a bomb threat or shoot­ing, said James Shaw, who is stay­ing at the Hy­att this week­end while his

6-year-old daugh­ter com­petes in a dance com­pe­ti­tion there.

While Shaw was mak­ing his way back from his ho­tel room on the 10th floor to the com­pe­ti­tion, he said he walked past the of­fi­cer, who was stand­ing on the bal­cony ledge.

He said he as­sumed the man was look­ing for some­thing.

“At first I thought it was strange, like any­one would,” Shaw, of Safety Har­bor, said.

When Shaw stepped out of the el­e­va­tor on the fourth floor, “that’s when you heard the boom,” he said.

“I can’t be­lieve I didn’t say any­thing to him,” Shaw said. “I was 4 feet from him… I thought he was there for a rea­son.”

Some lo­cal politi­cians took to so­cial me­dia Satur­day, of­fer­ing con­do­lences to air­port work­ers and the man’s fam­ily.

U.S. Rep. Dar­ren Soto, DKis­sim­mee, said on Twit­ter news of the ap­par­ent sui­cide “only adds

to tragedy ex­pe­ri­enced at [OIA]” com­ing off a dif­fi­cult month for the fed­eral work­ers, who “al­ready suf­fered so much dur­ing the [gov­ern­ment shut­down].”

U.S. Rep. Stephanie Mur­phy, DWin­ter Park, rec­og­nized the se­cu­rity of­fi­cers for hav­ing “some of the tough­est jobs... th­ese pub­lic ser­vants of­ten sac­ri­fice a lot in or­der to keep us safe at our na­tion’s air­ports,” the con­gress­woman, DWin­ter Park, said on Twit­ter.

“My thoughts to­day are with his fam­ily and co­work­ers, and I wish them well dur­ing this dif­fi­cult time,” she said in the post.

The Na­tional Sui­cide Preven­tion Life­line takes calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call 1-800-273-8255 if you need help.

JAMES SHAW/COUR­TESY

A TSA of­fi­cer died Satur­day af­ter po­lice said he jumped from a Hy­att Re­gency Ho­tel bal­cony into an open area in­side the Or­lando In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

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