A nearly three-hour confrontation with the police at the Orlando International Airport was caused by a mentally troubled ex-Marine who was armed with a fake gun in an attempt of a “suicide by cop,” authorities said.
No one was injured and no shots were fired before the 26-year-old Michael Wayne Pettigrew surrendered to crisis negotiators.
Orland police chief John Mina said hundreds of officers stormed the airport, car rental area Tuesday night, some with their weapons drawn. Pettigrew was seen waving what looked like a real gun on the officials and himself.
“When the officers came, they realized that was a person in mental distress, and wanted the whole ‘suicide by cop’ thing, ” Mina said, FOX 35 Orlando reported.
A part of the airport was evacuated and the deadlock caused confusion and fear among travellers.
Glorializ Colon Plaza, 20, told the Orlando Sentinel she was just to the work of Virgin Atlantic airlines when she saw that everyone was hiding. She stepped out of the elevator and saw the man on the ground near the rental car area. He was screaming, and the police had surrounded him.
“I couldn’t make out the words, but he yelled very loudly,” she said. “Everyone is telling me just before this happened a man said to everyone: `You are going to need mental therapy after this,” he pulled out a gun and everyone ran.”
Plaza said she heard no shots or see anyone injured.
“I saw the police with long rifles, and started shaking,” she said. “It seemed not real.”
Pettigrew was held for a mental evaluation and faces aggravated assault charges.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Read more on FOX 35 Orlando.