DALLAS (AP) — A police officer shot and wounded a man Friday outside a Dallas airport after the man attacked a woman believed to be the mother of his children and then threatened the officer with a large rock, police said.
“There doesn’t appear to be any other weapon present than the rock,” Dallas Police Assistant Chief Randall Blakenbaker said.
Video posted by Instagram user @flashyfilms- and credited to Bryan Armstrong shows the commotion on the curb outside baggage claim at Dallas Love Field. Amid the sound of nine gunshots and an officer’s shouts to “get down,” some people scramble while others stand watching before officers order them back inside. Toward the end of the video, one officer is seen pointing his gun at someone near the glass exterior of the airport.
Asked why the officer fired so many rounds at a man holding a rock, Blankenbaker said only that he did not know how many shots were fired. “We have to conduct an investigation over those types of speculation.”
Officers patrolling the airport Friday afternoon were seen carrying stun guns, but Blankenbaker said he didn’t know if the officer involved in the shooting had one on him at the time.
Officials said one bullet hit an exterior glass wall and the rest hit the suspect. Dallas police Sgt. Mike Beattie, who is stationed at Love Field, says that the bullet that hit the glass wall outside the airport’s baggage claim area didn’t penetrate it because of the protective film. One officer at the scene, who would not be named, said he was told that the victim “absorbed” all the other bullets.
Beattie said airport police receive specific training to be attentive to suspicious-looking travelers and that the Dallas Police Department provides “crowded-environment training” to all its officers every two years. Beattie said the officer who fired the shots is a Dallas police veteran, but he would not identify him.
Some airport operations were temporarily disrupted, but the airport remained open. Spokesman Jose Torres said that some people after hearing shots ran through security so everyone had to be rescreened.
“There were some folks in the security line who were startled, so they went through the security line without being checked. So the airport has had to pull everybody back out of the secure area and recheck them for security purposes,” Blankenbaker said.
Security checkpoint operations were back to normal Friday afternoon, airport officials said. Flights were departing but with many delays.
The man, who was not identified, was taken to a hospital. Torres said he was not critically wounded. Blankenbaker said the man was conscious while being transported to the hospital.
Traveler Lucinda Fonseca told WFAA-TV that she and her husband were coming out of the baggage claim area when they saw police approaching the man throwing rocks and one of the officers drew a gun.
“The man was yelling at the cops, basically saying ‘shoot me shoot me, I dare you,’ something to that effect,” Fonseca said, adding she then heard gunfire.
“I crouched down on the ground,” she said. “I didn’t know where the bullets were going.”
Blankenbaker said it appeared that the man had used a large rock from nearby landscaping to smash the windshield and driver’s side window of a car. Blankenbaker said no children were present during the disturbance and the woman wasn’t injured.
The officer, the lone law enforcement person involved in the incident, would be placed on administrative leave during the investigation, as per police policy, Blankenbaker said.
Southwest Airlines, the dominant airline at Love Field, said in a statement that they were working with air traffic controllers nationwide to manage inbound flights. According to tracking service flightaware.com, at least eight flights operated by Southwest and one by Virgin America were diverted to other airports.
Beattie said this is the first shooting in the history of Love Field, located a few miles from downtown.
Associated press writers Diana Heidgerd and Jamie Stengle contributed to this report.