A flying lesson at Oregon’s Hillsboro Airport resulted in a fatal shooting on Monday, after a man attempted to steal a helicopter from an instructor and his student.
Wearing a thick gray hooded sweatshirt and a mask, the unnamed would-be thief reportedly climbed over a barbed wire fence at the airport and forced the instructor and student from the helicopter at gunpoint. Neither was hurt, despite the armed man firing one shot away from the helicopter to scare the student from the aircraft, according to reports.
While the helicopter was running when he occupied it, the gunman was unable to escape by air because of the quick response from three Hillsboro Aero Academy employees, who were armed and surrounded the helicopter until Hillsboro police arrived. At that point, the gunman ran from the helicopter, hopped the fence again, and retreated to a nearby field, where he was shot and killed by an officer.
Christopher Neal witnessed the man’s bold attempt firsthand, as the Public Safety Director for the Port of Portland was spending his day off watching planes take off with his son and wife. “As he goes by us, he looks directly at me and then turns,” Neal told KOIN 6, “and as soon as he turns, he pulls the gray mask over his face.”
Neal’s wife, Vanessa, added: “As soon as that mask came up, we thought it was strange, looked at each other, and then decided to get our son into his car seat, buckle him up and go. That’s when we actually heard those shots fired.”
Lt. Henry Reinmann of the Hillsboro Police Department told the news station that the gunman “engaged” one of the officers, and that’s when he was shot and killed.
The incident took place at approximately 11:23 a.m., and the airport resumed normal operations by 1 p.m.