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Sat, Nov 15, 2003

Barricade Situation Forces Alternate Operations At Scottsdale

Standoff Affects Airport Operations

by ANN Associate Editor Pete Combs

The Scottsdale Airport (AZ) terminal was closed and aircraft were stacked up at both ends of the runway for more than two hours Friday, as a man police said has an AK-47 threatened to shoot down any airplane that flies overhead. Ironically, the skies just off the departure end of runway 3 were full of helicopters, although they were moved about a half-mile away from the scene after the suspect apparently fired shots into the air.  A Maricopa County Sheriff's Department helicopter orbited inside the ring of news choppers.

The Scottsdale ATIS mentioned a "police situation" near the end of the runway. At the time, aircraft were taking off and landing on runway 21. However, because of the threat to departing aircraft, no aircraft could leave.

Several big corporate aircraft were already queued for takeoff when ATC came up with a pretty snazzy idea. Since winds were relatively light, they landed aircraft at one end of the runway, then allowed them to take off from the other. Departing flights used runway 3. Arriving flights continued to use runway 21.

Several law enforcement agencies were involved in the standoff. It ended when officers say the suspect walked toward a nearby car with the intention of driving away. An officer shot the unnamed suspect in the chest.

Earlier Friday, Aero-News published an article on the debate over noise generated by aircraft at the Scottsdale Airport. However, there's no indication why the man was holed up with an assault weapon. Officers suspected he was using marijuana or methamphetamines.



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