Cops Name OKC Airport Shooter; Possible Motive Revealed
OKLAHOMA CITY (CBS News) — Police say the man accused of fatally shooting an Oklahoma City airport employee used to work for Southwest Airlines and that the attack was likely in retaliation for circumstances that led to the attacker’s 2015 resignation.
Capt. Paco Balderrama identified the shooter as Lloyd Dean Buie, of Oklahoma City.
He says Buie resigned from Southwest Airlines in April 2015 and that investigators believe he shot and killed 52-year-old Michael Winchester on Tuesday in retaliation for circumstances that led to Buie leaving the job.
Balderrama says he doesn’t know what Buie did for Southwest or why he resigned. He says Winchester was not Buie’s immediate supervisor. Police believe Buie, 45, used a rifle, CBS affiliate KWTV reports.
They say the crime was premeditated, and he armed himself and went to the airport with the intention of shooting someone. It’s not clear, however, if Winchester was the intended victim.
Buie was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head in a pickup truck shortly after Tuesday afternoon’s shooting.
Winchester was a former punter for the Sooners from 1984-1986, and lettered on Barry Switzer’s 1985 national championship team. The victim’s son, James Winchester, is also a former Sooner football player and is the current long snapper for the Kansas City Chiefs.
“Our hearts are truly heavy for the entire Winchester Family. Mike was a former Sooner student athlete as was his son James/daughter Carolyn,” the school’s athletic director, Joe Castiglione, tweeted Tuesday afternoon. He added “daughter Becca was also a student athlete. Please keep this beautiful family in your prayers” in a later tweet.
Southwest’s CEO, Gary Kelly, said on Twitter that the airline “will do everything we can to support Mike’s family.”
Police said the gunman lay in wait outside the airport before the killing while hundreds of people waited for flights nearby, police said. Police believe Winchester was shot as he was leaving work and walking to his car in the employee parking area.
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.
The 1 p.m. shooting set off a scramble at the airport, with police immediately closing the sprawling complex and asking passengers inside to seek cover.
They diverted incoming flights and refused to give already-loaded aircraft permission to leave. There were concerns the gunman might have entered the terminal and mingled among passengers or employees.
Hundreds of people were stranded inside the terminal for more than three hours before officers began letting them leave slowly. Carney said about 300 people were held on aircraft away from the terminal after their planes landed ahead of a ground stop.
Police found the suspect’s truck in the garage about three hours after the shooting and determined that someone was inside. They were not sure whether he was dead or alive. After about 75 minutes, using a robot, officers determined the suspect was dead and gave an all-clear.
The airport handles between 7,000 and 8,000 passengers daily for Alaska, Delta, Southwest and United airlines and has a separate terminal that serves as a transfer center for federal inmates. A jet carrying inmates to the transfer site was allowed to land while the rest of the airport was shuttered.
Video from a television station helicopter showed what appeared to be a pool of blood about 100 feet from the airport’s employee parking area – and about 100 yards from the airport’s ticket counters and departure area.
While airports have high security, it wasn’t immediately known whether surveillance cameras might show the shooting, Balderrama said.
Balderrama initially said police had received reports of a possible second victim, but no one was found.
A number of inbound flights were diverted to other airports after Will Rogers suspended operations. Southwest redirected one flight back to Dallas while a Las Vegas to Houston flight that stops in Oklahoma City went to Amarillo, Texas, instead. Two commercial flights from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport were directed to Tulsa, about 100 miles away.
Flights were operating normally Wednesday morning.