TSA officer jumps to his death at Orlando Airport

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — An officer from the Transportation
Security Administration jumped to his death from a balcony inside Florida’s
busiest airport Saturday, creating panic that brought some security checkpoints
to a halt for hours, grounded flights and caused serious delays.

Panicked passengers rushed past checkpoints leading to about
half of the gates at Orlando International Airport after the man jumped,
resulting in checkpoint closures for up to three hours and some flight
cancellations.

“At no point were passengers in any danger,”
airport officials said in a statement.

Those affected by the stoppage included Alaska, Air Canada,
Delta and Southwest airlines.

By Saturday afternoon, Southwest had cancelled 49 inbound
flights and 45 outbound flights, according to the airport.

“This is a peak travel time on Saturdays and two of our
busiest airlines were affected, Southwest and Delta, so a couple of thousand
passengers may have been affected,” Carolyn Fennell, the airport’s senior
director of public affairs, said in an email.

The TSA officer, in his 40s, died from an apparent suicide,
according to the Orlando Police Department, which described it as an isolated
incident.

“Our hearts are with the TSA family during this very
difficult time,” the department tweeted.

The man jumped from a hotel balcony inside the airport into
the atrium where passengers wait to get through security.

The officer was pronounced dead after being taken to a
hospital, according to the police.

The airport tweeted that passengers who rushed past
checkpoints were returned for a second examination out of an abundance of
caution. Two airside terminals were closed to passengers during a security
sweep, and all flights to and from the affected gates were stopped until
security measures were reinstated, according to the airport.

“We ask that you have patience with airport personnel
as they work through this tragic incident,” the Orlando Police Department
tweeted.

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