HOUSTON – New security questions have been raised since the recent shooting at Bush Intercontinental Airport.
For more than an hour, the shooter’s unattended truck sat on the ramp just feet away from the doors to Terminal B at Bush Intercontinental Airport.
The truck belonged to a very troubled man who left it behind and went into the terminal with a plan.
For an hour and 15 minutes the truck sat idle, while its owner went into terminal B with a gun in his waistband and a semi-automatic rifle in his suitcase.
The truck would get towed by crime-scene technicians only after the owner was inside shooting his gun, getting shot by law enforcement and shooting himself.
How did this happen?
“I don’t think that anybody would think that that is a good idea,” Houston Police Union President Ray Hunt said when asked about the truck sitting so long.
The truck itself could have easily been a weapon of its own, which is why the rules at the airport are clear.
“If someone gets out of their vehicle there should be a yellow-shirt person saying get back in your vehicle; or if they refuse to they will call a unit and they will come up there and tow the vehicle,” Hunt continued.
What he calls a “yellow shirt” is the security hired by the airport to watch the ramps, but they don’t always wear yellow.
HPD officers stationed at the airport said that the airport-hired security for the ramps has been cut in recent years.
We wanted to check it out so we drove through the arrivals areas of all the terminals at Bush.
Terminal E was quiet with no sign of anyone even watching the ramp.
Terminal C again, no sign of anyone watching, and those are the busy ones.
How about Terminal B where the incident took place?
We ran into Mike McMahon, waiting for his ride outside right where the truck was two weeks ago.
“Have you seen anybody out here checking vehicles? Asking people to move along?” I asked.
“Not that I’ve seen yet,” McMahon said.
There was also a vehicle that appeared to be empty parked on the ramp outside the Terminal.
“The yellow shirts should be making sure that people are moving along, and no cars are there unattended,” Hunt said.
But that is hard to do when they are not there.
An HPD officer coming into the substation in Terminal B ended up approaching the vehicle that appeared to be abandoned. The officer knocked on the window.
Inside the driver’s seat popped up, the woman behind the wheel was simply napping while waiting for her party to arrive.
However, there was still no ramp security in sight.
The airport system said that, in the case of the truck, it did notice the vehicle between 10 and 15 minutes after it was parked and followed its protocol to page the driver in the terminal and then ticket the vehicle. The airport system said it was waiting on a tow from HPD when the shooting happened inside the terminal. That was more than an hour after the truck arrived.