Police shot and wounded a knife-wielding man who entered a restricted area of Miami’s airport and then got onto the tarmac Thursday, another worry for antsy travelers fleeing Hurricane Irma.
The incident began to unfold around 8:30 p.m., a hectic day for the airport after half a million people were ordered to evacuate South Florida.
Police received a call about a white man “acting erratically,” according to a news release from the Miami-Dade Police Department.
Officers from the department’s incident containment team responded to the area near Terminal J, which is mostly used for international flights.
The man with the knife ran, and officers chased him. He somehow managed to get into a restricted area and made his way onto the tarmac. Some accounts say he tried to get on the roof of Terminal J. At some point, he attempted to climb through the ceiling to get back into the airport, Police Director Juan Perez told the Associated Press.
As the chase continued, authorities evacuated the terminal.
Other officers cornered the man near a parked airplane. The police department hasn’t released details about what happened next but said that one officer fired a shot, wounding the man.
The names of the man with the knife and the officers involved have not been released. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the officer-involved shooting.
The injured man was in stable condition at a hospital, police said. No officers were hurt.
Shawn Woodford was about to get on a Canada-bound flight with his wife when they saw police cars and firetrucks “flying across the tarmac,” he told the AP. The emergency vehicles “surrounded a plane at the gate next to us.”
A short time later, police came into the terminal where Woodford and his wife were and said everyone had to leave.
Perez told the Miami Herald that officers were still trying to figure out how the man breached a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint to get into a restricted area.
He said investigators believe the incident was isolated and “do not suspect that there’s other individuals in the airport who are here to cause any harm.”
Only one flight was slated to leave the terminal at the time, according to the Herald, and many passengers probably never knew what happened.
Airport operations continued Friday, perhaps the last full day to evacuate Florida before the effects of Irma are felt.
The airport warned that it was expecting a high number of travelers and that fliers should arrive early and be prepared for cancellations. Airline spokesmen did not immediately return calls seeking information.
The latest projections showed Hurricane Irma’s eye passing just west of Miami.
All of South Florida is under a storm surge warning and a hurricane warning, and the state will feel the worst of the hurricane on Sunday and Monday.
The National Weather Service was encouraging people to complete their plans to “protect life and property” by Friday.