A man in his 40s died Thursday after police say he opened fire near the San Antonio International Airport. No one else was seriously injured, police said.
The airport was put on lockdown around 2:45 p.m., and all flights were temporarily grounded. Flights have since resumed.
The man, who was not identified Thursday, had a history of mental health issues and run-ins with law enforcement, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said at a Thursday press conference.
Hours before the airport shooting, a man matching the description of the shooter fired shots near the intersection of U.S. Hwy. 281 and Loop 1604, according to police. Officers found about 10 shells fired from a pistol near and below the southbound U.S. Hwy. 281 overpass. Police believe the two incidents were committed by the same suspect.
Around 2:30 p.m., police received a call that a motorist was driving the wrong way on the lower level of the airport’s terminal roadway. When he was confronted by a San Antonio Police Department officer, the driver jumped out of his vehicle and opened fire, shooting in the direction of the terminal, at the police, and behind him “indiscriminately,” McManus said.
The officer, a member of the park police and an 11-year veteran of the force who was working overtime during the incident, shot the man, who was transported to a local hospital where he died from his wounds, McManus said.
“The officer, in my opinion, was was a hero today. He saved a lot of lives that could have been lost by this … shooter,” McManus said, adding the gunman was armed with a 45-caliber handgun. “This guy had a full box of ammunition.”
Krysteen Villarreal said she was being dropped off near the Southwest Airlines check-in when she heard a few loud pops.
“It kind of sounded like tires popping,” Villarreal said. “I kept walking, and then everybody started running … all directions. I saw people kind of running from behind me, running from the terminal.”
She said she then overheard somebody saying that there were gunshots on the level below.
San Antonio resident Doug Rosini, 49, said he’d been inside the airport when he heard someone yell “shooter” and “run.” Rosini had been traveling to Providence for business.
“I saw somebody running and I turn around and it sounded like stampede, and I saw all these people running, including a bunch of TSA people,” Rosini said.
Two minor injuries related to the Thursday shooting included a traveler who fell while running away from the scene and another person who may have been hit by shrapnel, according to police.
Rosini said he and other passengers were led onto the tarmac where they sheltered in place for 30 minutes.
“Somebody from TSA had said, ‘Go to the back, there’s an exit.’ And we got to the back wall, and this whole herd of people were converging on this one doorway going down a stairwell. Somebody from TSA opened the doorway, and everybody was just ushered out that way so I mean you had 1,000-plus people trying to get out one doorway,” he said.
It’s a moment Rosini said he’ll never forget.
“When you hear ‘shooter,’ the only thing that runs through your mind is to get as far away from it as you can,” he said. “Yeah, absolutely I feared for my life.”
As of 4:30 p.m., the lower level terminal was still closed, as it is considered a crime scene, McManus said. Flight passengers are being directed to alternate paths.