Southwest Airlines worker dead in Oklahoma airport shooting

Travelers leave the secured  area Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2002, of Will Rogers World Airport  in Oklahoma City while a sign at the entrance displays what items are prohibited. Airport security at the country's airports has been tightened significantly since the terrorist attacks a year ago, so much so that the Transportation Security Administration would not allow photographs of the passenger and baggage screening process. (AP Photo/Jerry Laizure)
Travelers leave the secured area Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2002, of Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City while a sign at the entrance displays what items are prohibited. Airport security at the country's airports has been tightened significantly since the terrorist attacks a year ago, so much so that the Transportation Security Administration would not allow photographs of the passenger and baggage screening process. (AP Photo/Jerry Laizure)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A Southwest Airlines employee was shot outside Oklahoma City’s Will Rogers World Airport on Tuesday and died after police closed the sprawling complex to search for his killer.

Oklahoma City police identified the victim as Michael Winchester, 52. A hometown wasn’t listed. The airline said it was helping police officers with their investigation. Police have not detained a suspect in the shooting.

“It is with great sorrow that Southwest Airlines confirms that a Southwest Employee who was injured during a shooting incident today at Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City has died from injuries,” the airline said in a statement. It said it would cancel flights out of the city for the remainder of the day even if the rest of the terminal reopens.

Police and airport officials closed the complex after the 1 p.m. shooting and directed that people inside the terminal take shelter. At late afternoon, officers said the agency would begin moving people outside of the building, which handles between 7,000 and 8,000 passengers daily for Alaska, Delta, Southwest and United airlines.

The airport is also a major transfer center for federal inmates, but its terminal is in a separate building. 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 near the bottom of a ramp leading from the airport’s departure area. Two ambulances and a firetruck stood by.

Oklahoma City Police Capt. Paco Balderrama initially said police had received reports of a possible second victim, but no one had been located by late afternoon. No other details of the shooting were immediately available.

After the airport suspended operations, maps posted at the airport tracking website FlightAware showed that one plane was diverted to the Wiley Post Airport in the northwestern part of the city while two commercial flights from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport were directed to Tulsa, about 100 miles away.

“There are going to be some delays for flights until we have further information,” airport spokeswoman Karen Carney said. She referred other questions to police.

All streets were blocked off surrounding the airport and everyone should avoid the area, Balderrama said. Some people were allowed to leave the grounds after police checked their vehicles.

Carney said that police believe the shooting was an isolated incident, but that precautionary measures were still appropriate.

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