June 27, 2006 at 19:31:31 PDT
By KATHLEEN HENNESSEY
LAS VEGAS (AP) - A man was shot and wounded by police at McCarran International Airport on Tuesday after he grabbed a child at knifepoint and ran through a security area, police and airport officials said.
Las Vegas police spokesman Jose Montoya said two officers shot the man about 4:30 p.m. after he had crossed through a security checkpoint by running through an exit lane intended for passengers leaving the gates.
The 25-year-old man reportedly kidnapped a 3 1/2-year-old boy at a toy store in an unsecure area just outside the A and B gates, officials said.
The man had been browsing alone in the store for three or four minutes before snatching the child as he and his mother played with toy cars near the back of the store, said Blanca Gomez, a Kid’s Wear & Toys employee.
“I turned around, and saw him run. The lady, she was screaming, 'My baby, my baby!” Gomez said. “It was fast, it was scary.”
Gomez, 23, said the child’s mother did not appear to know the man.
The man ran about 20 yards, making it through the exit lane before being confronted by three officers at the other side of the checkpoint. One officer used a Taser gun to stun the man, police said.
“He then dropped the child, after he was Tasered, and charged at the officers,” Montoya said. “Two officers fired one round each.”
Police said the child was not harmed and was returned to his mother. Neither she nor her child were identified.
The wounded man was taken to an area hospital, Montoya said. Police did not identify the man and his condition was not immediately known.
“The system worked. As soon as the breach occurred, the police were in place and the system worked,” airport spokesman Elaine Sanchez said.
The checkpoint was shut down for about 10 minutes, but there were no delays or interruption of service at the airport, the nation’s fifth busiest, Sanchez said.
The A and B gates are used by Southwest Airlines, US Airways, America West and Champion Air, according to the airport’s Web site.
The shooting is believed to the first at an airport since two federal air marshals fatally shot airline passenger Rigoberto Alpizar at Miami International Airport in December after the Costa Rican native uttered bomb threats and tried to reboard a plane. It was later learned he suffered from bipolar disorder.
Glad the guy was caught, and lived! There’s a special punishment for people like that in prison, and it’s meted out by the prisoners