Eppley: Procedures worked in bizarre incident

Posted at 4:41 PM, Aug 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-27 16:42:09-04

The bizarre incident was handled quickly by airport and local police, but it's a reminder for them to review security measures.

At about 9:30pm Thursday night, officers were called to assist airport police with a foot pursuit.

Police say Delairo Koonce, 35, was acting erratic, stripped down, and eventually jumped a barbed wire fence onto the tarmac at Eppley Airfield.  Authorities say he then found an unoccupied pick-up truck with the keys in it and tried to flee.  That pickup ended up crashing into a southwest flight that was boarding passengers, and severely damaged its landing gear.  Two crew members had minor injuries.  He was taken into custody.

"That fence is a deterrent; it's not an end all stop all from somebody that wants to get on the airport.  I'm very pleased with how our officers responded they were able to catch him within 4 minutes of him getting airside," said Eppley Airfield Police Chief Tim Conahan.

Police say Koonce had methamphetamine in his system.

He was taken to the hospital, and will then be arrested.

Chief Conahan says they will continue to reevaluate policies and procedures as threats continue to change.  But he says the airlines shouldn't allow employees to leave keys in vehicles if they're on the tarmac.

Some wonder if this was a planned attack, or freakish behavior.

“I don't have any reason to believe that he intentionally hit that truck I think he was trying to get away from officers,” Chief Conahan explained.  "We feel that we have the necessary protocols in place that if the intent did appear to be such as it was nefarious in some ways, or he was attempting to hurt people my officers would've taken the action needed to stop that threat right away."

The FBI will also investigate if federal charges are warranted.

On Saturday, OPD officials say Koonce was booked at the Douglas County Corrections for Theft by Unlawful Taking (Over $5,000) , Criminal Mischief (Over $5,000), Criminal Mischief (Under $500) and Criminal Trespass (2nd Degree).