HONOLULU, Hawaii (KGMB) — A man in his 40’s died after breaching a TSA security checkpoint at the Honolulu International Airport Saturday.
Mahealani Richardson was with her son waiting to board their plane when the chaos unfolded.
“All of a sudden, this man, a very large man, ran through the terminal and started ramming himself through the doors looking like he was trying to get out to the runway where the planes are,” Richardson said.
Officials with the Department of Transportation say the suspect was not armed, but he forced his way through the exit lane at the security check point. He made it all the way outside to the airport operations area before he was placed in custody.
“Even after he was detained, there was still a struggle and the suspect became combative and then after that point, he became unresponsive,” DOT Spokesperson, Tim Sakahara, said.
The suspect, described as a man in his 40’s, was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. Authorities say a male security officer suffered head injuries in the process and was also taken to the hospital.
“When I opened, I just saw a lot of police cars inside so I was wondering what happened,” an airport employee said.
Meanwhile, frightened and confused passengers stayed as far away from the scene as possible.
“It was really scary during that moment, we had no idea what was going on,” Richardson said. “We just had to duck down and try to cover ourselves because we didn’t know if he was going to come at us. We just had to protect ourselves.”
Security checkpoint operations at the commuter terminal were briefly suspended during the incident. No flights were impacted but detectives stayed on scene for more than five hours to investigate.
The Honolulu Police Department has opened an unattended death investigation.
The suspect’s identity has not yet been released.