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Flights grounded after TSA officer jumps to his death at Orlando International Airport


Incident being called an apparent suicide

Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/Orlando Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images

A TSA officer jumped to his death Saturday morning from a hotel balcony and into the atrium area at Orlando International Airport, according to published reports.

The suicide prompted the Federal Aviation Administration to close several security points, leading to delays and "massive lines," according to WPLG-TV.

What happened?

The man, who was in his 40s, jumped from an upper floor of the Hyatt Regency Hotel and into the atrium area of the airport, where some security checkpoints begin, Sgt. Eduardo Bernal, a spokesman for the Orlando Police Department told the TV station.

Paramedics transported him to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

During the commotion following the incident, several security checkpoints were breached, an airport spokesperson told the TV station. Passengers who rushed by security checkpoints were returned to be checked.

Police also said the suicide was an isolated occurrence and there were no other safety concerns.

"We are working closely with our partners at @TSA and @MCO to restore normal airport operations. We ask that you have patience with airport personnel as they work through this tragic incident," Orlando Police wrote on Twitter.

Jim Gregory, a spokesman for the TSA, told the news outlet the man had just finished his shift when he jumped.

ABC News reported that investigators believe the incident was a "statement suicide," to send a message to the public, although police did not elaborate.

The TSA officers personal and work histories are under review, along with his social media accounts, to search for possible reasons for his apparent suicide.

"In an abundance of caution, all passengers are being rescreened and in bound aircraft for airsides 2 and 4 may be delayed. Allow extra time for screening as some there may be delays in the process," the airport said in a statement following the incident.

Any witnesses?

James Shaw, a guest at the hotel, said he saw the TSA officer climb over the balcony railing overlooking the atrium.

"Thought it was strange and then thought he may be observing the security area below since he was TSA. I wish I would have said something to him," Shaw told the news outlet.

Airlines impacted by the incident included Alaska, Air Canada, Delta and Southwest airlines, the Associated Press reported. Southwest cancelled 49 inbound flights and 45 outbound flights.

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