Police: Man with fake gun in custody at Orlando airport
An ex-Marine armed with a fake gun attempted a “suicide by police” Tuesday night during an almost three-hour police incident at Orlando International Airport, authorities said.
No one was injured and no firing was launched, but the stalemate has caused confusion and anxiety among travelers who did not know what was happening. Part of the airport was evacuated as hundreds of agents stormed the area, some with their weapons drawn.
Michael Wayne Pettigrew, 26, was in “mental anguish” when police surrounded the airport rental area, authorities said. He pointed out what looked like a real pistol to the officers and himself, according to the authorities.
“Our negotiators have done a phenomenal job with talking for about two hours and finally got him to surrender peacefully,” said police chief John Orlando Mina.
He performed a mental assessment and faces charges of aggravated assault.
Glorializ Col’n Plaza, 20, told Orlando Sentinel that he was flying Virgin Atlantic’s work when he saw everyone tucked away. She got off the elevator and saw the man on the ground near the car rental area. He shouted, and the police had surrounded him.
“I could not understand the words, but he, voices very hard,” he said. “Everyone told me there is just before that happens, a man told everyone,” You will need a mental therapy after that, “then he drew a gun and everyone ran.”
Plaza said he had heard no firearms or no injuries.
“I saw all the cops with long guns and I started to shake,” he said. “It did not seem real.”
Earlier this year, authorities say a man in Alaska killed five people in a luggage area at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
The incident at the Orlando airport was reported for the first time at 7 am. Terminal A was definitely shut down, but the other side of the airport, Terminal B, remained open during a stalemate.
The president of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, Frank Kruppenbacher, praised the response of police and airport employees.
“Our employees have done everything according to what they taught them to do,” said Kruppenbacher. “You could not have a better resolution, no one was injured, the airport continued to operate on the other side.”
Some flights were delayed during the test, but airport operations are back to normal on Tuesday.
Images posted on social media showed a strong police presence in the area and passengers were concerned about their safety and missing flights. At some point, patrolled the Florida highway criticized all the roads of the airport were closed, with “zero exceptions.” Orlando police later said that the entrances were open, but congested.