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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Airport Shoot-out in New York

With all the bad news we get it is always good to have a laugh. It keeps the circulation up even if it is only an "Oldie but a Goodie"

Here is a true story about an "incident" I was recently involved in . Check it out. It actually is true and no joke. Obviously it has a happy ending because I am still alive to tell the tale. It was reported in the Star Ledger, a new york moring daily on Nov 20 when I was there, just before the US Thanksgiving Holiday.

Airport chase causes mayhem, police cruiser stolen and crashed
By George Berkin and Mark Mueller STAFF WRITERS - 11/20/99

Gunfire erupted outside a Newark International Airport terminal at the height of the evening rush yesterday, sending passengers and employees diving for cover as police opened fire on a carjacking suspect whose desperate attempt to flee resulted in a series of harrowing car crashes.

No one was seriously injured in the 4:40 p.m. chase, but the episode jarred shoulder-to-shoulder onlookers outside Terminal B as the suspect, trying to escape in a stolen police car, drove the wrong way down the terminal’s busy access road, smashing into a Cadillac and sideswiping a van before the hobbled cruiser came to rest against a guardrail.

Witnesses said Port Authority police officers, some in pursuit of thesuspect and some emerging from the terminal, peppered the disabled cruiser with gunfire, apparently missing the man, who was armed with agun he wrested from a police officer during his initial flight. They arrested him moments later, capping a drama that witnesses said seemed like a Hollywood action stunt come-to-life."It was horrific," said Ricky Huggins, 40, of Jersey City, a Delta Airlines skycap who watched the incident unfold.

"I thought they were filming movie when I saw that car come around the bend and crash into all those other cars."Then the police just kept firing. Pow, pow, pow, pow. They must have fired 10, 11 times. Everybody hit the deck when they heard the shots. Me, I wished I was home."

Police late last night said they had not yet confirmed the identity of the man, who is in his 20s. He was being treated for minor injuries at University Hospital in Newark and was expected to be transported afterward to the Port Authority police station at the airport pending a bail hearing today in Newark Municipal Court. Peter Yerkes, a Port Authority spokesman, said the man will be charged with, among other crimes, robbery, carjacking, aggravated assault on a police officer, eluding police and two counts of possession of a dangerous weapon, one in connection with a knife and one in connection with the gun.

Four police officers who suffered minor injuries in the incident we retreated at Elizabeth General Hospital and University Hospital. They were later released. Three civilians, victims of car collisions, were treated for minor injuries at University Hospital and released.

Police and witnesses gave the following account of the incident, which snarled traffic on the airport's internal roads and on major roads outside the airport for hours afterward: Armed with a 10-inch knife, the man approached a woman in the parking lot of Terminal A, where she had just arrived to pick up her sister. The man forced the woman from her car, a white sedan, and began to driveway.

A security guard who witnessed the carjacking notified Port Authority police, who responded moments later, beginning a chase that carried into a lot across from Terminal B. It was there, authorities said, that the man lost control of the white sedan, colliding with a blue Ford Taurus.

Dennis Collins of Ocean Township heard the crash, parked his own car and, not realizing the man was fleeing police, tried to help the man out of the sedan, which had landed atop the Taurus." He got out on his own, stood up on top of the Taurus and, so help me, tried to lift the white car off the other one" said Collins, who was at the airport to pick up relatives. "He was gripping the fender trying to lift it up."

Four police officers arrived seconds later, ordering the suspect to the ground, Collins and witnesses said."They had their guns on him. They could have shot him any time," he said. Instead of lying on the ground, the suspect charged a female police officer, wresting her service weapon from her.

He then jumped into a police cruiser and fled. Witnesses said police fired at least two shots at the cruiser as it raced out of the lot, striking several parked cars. Authorities and witnesses said the man then turned the wrong way down the terminal's main access road, speeding toward oncoming cars that tried to get out of the way.

Some motorists couldn't manage the task. The speeding cop car barreled into a Cadillac before sideswiping a van and striking the guardrail." The Caddy's windows just exploded when he hit it," Huggins said, wincing at the thought two hours after the collision. Paul Lukaszewski of Springfield was leaving the terminal in a car when he saw the police cruiser come charging toward him. Seconds later, it crashed, Lukaszewski said, and police opened fire."

At first I ducked," he said. "It was wild, really wild."While the suspect was not hit in the barrage, several shots struck the cruiser, one of them piercing the rear window. It was unclear if the suspect ever raised the gun he had stolen from the police officer."He seemed like he was in a daze," Huggins said. "He wasn't really reacting. Then the police smashed the side window and dragged him out of the car -- hard."

Another cruiser whisked the man away within minutes, Huggins said. In the aftermath, wreckage littered the access road, blocking access to Terminal C and creating massive traffic tie-ups that extended onto highways surrounding the airport. The congestion meant major delays for departing and arriving passengers as well as for many homebound commuters.

For some employees and travelers, however, the incident was more than an inconvenience. Several called it terrifying given the crowds and timing: rush hour on the Friday before Thanksgiving, traditionally a busy time."It scares the heck out of me," said Ysabel Bravo, 26, a Continental Airlines ticket agent. "Whenever shooting's involved, God knows what could happen."

"Source Star-Ledger. Nov 20 , 1999