Updated November 21, 2019 - 3:00 pm
A man underwent surgery after being shot by a Las Vegas police officer during a struggle with officers on the tarmac at McCarran International Airport early Thursday.
Las Vegas police were notified of a security door breach at Terminal 3 about 3:30 a.m. About 20 minutes later police located a man “who was inside a restricted baggage processing area,” police said in a news release.
Metropolitan Police Department Capt. Nichole Splinter said during a briefing that officers found the man near Terminal 1. As police were escorting the man into the terminal he attacked the officers, Splinter said.
“This individual became extremely irate and attacked one of our officers, knocking him to the ground and knocking him unconscious,” Splinter said. “A second officer then attempted to use less-than-lethal means to safely de-escalate the situation. This individual attacked that officer … then attempted to attack a third officer. The officer fired two rounds, striking the subject and we were able to get him into custody.”
The officer who was assaulted and the wounded man were taken to University Medical Center. No conditions were available, but Splinter said the assailant underwent surgery.
Police said they did not know if the man was a ticketed passenger.
Flights were not affected. The investigation is ongoing.
Jeffrey Price, a professor of aviation management at Metropolitan State University of Denver and an expert on aviation security, said when someone breaches security and makes it onto the tarmac, it is generally considered trespassing. But if an an individual commits violent acts during the incursion that could lead to significant charges, he said.
“It could be considered violence at an international airport, which is one of the nine aviation-related crimes the FBI will investigate,” he said.
Price said in such a scenario the intruder also could be prosecuted on local charges or face possible civil penalties from the Transportation Security Administration.
“It is the jurisdiction of federal government and local police — both of them have jurisdiction over the incident,” Price said. “Usually they will get together and decide ‘Do you want to take this one federally or do you want to prosecute through the state?’”
This is the 16th shooting in 2019 involving an officer with the Metropolitan Police Department.