The man who shot and killed the father of an NFL player at Oklahoma City’s Will Rogers World Airport is a former employee of Southwest Airlines, police said Wednesday.
Perched on the fourth floor of a five-story parking garage, Lloyd Dean Buie, 45, used a rifle to shoot Southwest Airlines employee Michael Winchester, 52, from around 50 yards away, Oklahoma City Police Capt. Paco Balderrama said at a news conference. The attack occurred just before 2 p.m. ET Tuesday as Winchester, a former punter for the University of Oklahoma Sooners, walked to his car after work. He was later pronounced dead at an area hospital.
Buie then shot himself.
Police found him in a red pickup truck with a gunshot wound to the head. It was not clear whether the suspect used the same rifle to kill himself.
Buie had resigned from Southwest Airlines in April 2015. He knew the path airline employees took between the main terminal and the employees parking lot, leading investigators to believe Buie planned the attack, Balderrama said. Winchester was shot as he walked to his car after leaving work, he said. He was not Buie’s immediate supervisor.
Balderrama said Buie drove to the airport Tuesday with the intent to kill someone. He likely used some sort of scope on the rifle and was probably familiar with the weapon. “You don’t have to be an expert marksman to hit a 50-yard shot, but it’s not an easy shot either,” he said.
“We do not know if Mr. Winchester was the intended victim,” Balderrama said, “but it is possible the suspect acted in retaliation against the circumstances leading up to his resignation.”
Authorities temporarily closed the airport Tuesday as they combed the grounds for additional suspects or victims. Police are reviewing surveillance video at the airport and searching Buie’s home for further clues as to his motive.
Buie had filed for bankruptcy in September after being out of work for more than a year, according to The Oklahoman website. He reported $150,800 in assets and $254,761 in liabilities, including a mortgage, an auto loan and thousands of dollars in unpaid credit card bills, the news site said. “Debtor has not worked since May 2015,” the petition stated.
In this photo taken Oct. 8, 2007, Michael Winchester, second from right, poses for a photo with children, from left, Emily, Carolyn, James and Becca in Washington, Okla. (Photo: Matt Strasen, The Oklahoman via AP)
Winchester was a former punter for the University of Oklahoma Sooners football team from 1984 to 1986 and played for the university’s national championship team. Southwest Airlines confirmed that he was an airline employee. He is also the father of an NFL football player, James Winchester, who plays for the Kansas City Chiefs.
“It is with great sorrow that Southwest Airlines confirms that a Southwest employee who was injured during a shooting incident today at Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City has died from injuries. We continue to work with the local authorities investigating this incident. As a result of the police investigation, local flight operations have been halted,” Southwest said in a statement. “The Southwest Airlines Family is deeply saddened by the passing of our Southwest Family Member, and we extend our heartfelt sympathies and support to his family and Southwest co-workers at this time.”
The airport handles between 7,000 and 8,000 passengers daily for Alaska, Allegiant, American, Delta, Southwest and United airlines.
The airport is also a major transfer center for federal inmates, but its terminal is in a separate building. A jet carrying inmates to the transfer site was allowed to land Tuesday while the rest of the airport was shuttered.
Joe Castiglione, director of athletics for the University of Oklahoma, tweeted, “Our hearts are truly heavy for the entire Winchester Family. Mike was a former Sooner student athlete as was his son James/daughter Carolyn.”
Video from a television station helicopter showed what appeared to be a pool of blood near the bottom of a ramp leading from the airport’s departure area. Two ambulances and a firetruck stood by.
Contributing: Associated Press. Follow Jervis on Twitter: @MrRJervis.
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