Police shut down Oklahoma City airport after fatal shooting

Police are still searching for a suspect. Video provided by Newsy Newslook

Authorities temporarily shut down Oklahoma City’s Will Rogers World Airport after an ambush attack of an airline employee Tuesday afternoon. The gunman was later found dead.

The killer lay in wait outside the airport in a premeditated attack, police said. Michael Winchester, 52, was shot while walking between a crowded terminal and the airport employee parking area. The unidentified suspect then fatally shot himself in a truck parked in a nearby lot.

Oklahoma City Police Capt. Paco Balderrama said the shooter apparently knew the victim’s schedule and routine.

“This individual went there and waited for the employee to either be coming or going to take this opportunity,” Balderrama said. He wouldn’t say conclusively that it was a “sniper-type” attack.

Winchester was a former punter for the University of Oklahoma Sooners football team from 1984 to 1986 and played for the university’s national championship team. Southwest Airlines confirmed that he was an airline employee. He is also the father of an NFL football player, James Winchester, who plays for the Kansas City Chiefs.

“It is with great sorrow that Southwest Airlines confirms that a Southwest Employee who was injured during a shooting incident today at Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City has died from injuries. We continue to work with the local authorities investigating this incident. As a result of the police investigation, local flight operations have been halted,” the statement said. “The Southwest Airlines Family is deeply saddened by the passing of our Southwest Family Member, and we extend our heartfelt sympathies and support to his family and Southwest Co-workers at this time.”

The airport handles between 7,000 and 8,000 passengers daily for Alaska, Delta, Southwest and United airlines.

The airport is also a major transfer center for federal inmates, but its terminal is in a separate building. A jet carrying inmates to the transfer site was allowed to land while the rest of the airport was shuttered.

“There are going to be some delays for flights until we have further information,” Will Rogers Airport spokeswoman Karen Carney told AP. She said she thinks that the shooting is an isolated incident.

Joe Castiglione, director of athletics for the University of Oklahoma, tweeted, “Our hearts are truly heavy for the entire Winchester Family. Mike was a former Sooner student athlete as was his son James/daughter Carolyn.”

Video from a television station helicopter showed what appeared to be a pool of blood near the bottom of a ramp leading from the airport’s departure area. Two ambulances and a firetruck stood by.

Streets around the airport were closed to traffic and citizens were warned to stay clear, according to local media reports.

Flights at the airport were suspended “until further notice,” the airport said via Twitter at 2:42 p.m. ET.

Contributing: Associated Press

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