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 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.
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. A security sweep of the affected gates and aircraft was conducted, and all flights to and from the affected gates were stopped until security measures were reinstated, according to the airport.
The airport warned passengers Saturday afternoon to give themselves plenty of time to get through security.
“We ask that you have patience with airport personnel as they work through this tragic incident,” the Orlando Police Department tweeted.
The airlines affected by the stoppage included Alaska, Air Canada, Delta and Southwest airlines.
By Saturday afternoon, Southwest Airlines had cancelled 49 inbound flights and 45 outbound flights, according to the airport.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or has had thoughts of harming themselves or taking their own life, get help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) provides 24/7, free, confidential support for people in distress, as well as best practices for professionals and resources to aid in prevention and crisis situations.