A man armed with homemade explosives, a machete, and a bottle of poison walked into the New Orleans airport last Friday and started attacking Transportation Security Officers. He sprayed TSOs and several passengers standing at the security checkpoint with wasp killer insecticide, drew a large machete from the waistband of his pants and chased an officer with it. He was finally shot and killed by the police, but things could have been worse; those TSA officers could have been killed just like TSO Gerardo Hernandez who was murdered by a gunman at Los Angeles International Airport in 2013. According to witnesses, the attacker asked people if they were TSA officers. When they said no, he moved on without shooting. He was only targeting TSOs.
How many more TSOs have to get hurt or killed before TSA decides it has to do something?
For years, AFGE has advocated for a new law enforcement unit within TSA, specially trained and armed to respond to such attacks, and for other safety measures at screening checkpoints. AFGE applauds the response of law enforcement officers who ended the attack in New Orleans, but many other airports are not prepared to respond as quickly or as effectively.
Last Friday’s attack is a sad reminder of what more needs to be done to keep the flying public safe. AFGE wishes a swift recovery to the brave officers involved, and our union will keep fighting to make our airports a safe place to work and travel.