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Local airport security top of mind following Flint attack

Local Airport Security Top Of Mind Following Flint Attack

“Flip-Flow” doors at Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL3) – The Kalamazoo County Sheriff s Office says it’s paying close attention to what happened in the attack on an officer at Flint s Bishop International Airport. Undersheriff Paul Matyas said deputies will be ready to make any necessary changes to the security at Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport.

“You’ve got to have security at a location like this. These are soft targets, said Matyas. “Since the 9-11 incident, many years ago, the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Department has had a detail at the Kalamazoo airport.”

County deputies patrol the grounds and tower, as well as making normal rounds through the inside of the airport. For Matyas, it s important to stay visible.

“We put a patrol car right in front, said Matyas. There’s no doubt there are sheriff’s deputies at the airport on duty.”

“They’re always doing the perimeter checks, said Anton Bjorkman, Airport Assistant Director of Operations and Maintenance. They always have a bit of presence here on sight.”

The airport also has technology that can help prevent an emergency, or contain one, if something were to happen. They re called Flip-Flow doors, and they control movement through the building.

“The only comments ever we get on it are, ‘I’ve never seen anything like that before,’ said Bjorkman. Which, you know, is kind of a cool thing.”

The doors are only in one spot: the path that leads from the boarding zone back to the public entrance. The doors open on the boarding side, allow one person to enter, then close. From there the door on the opposite side will open and allow people to exit.

“They’re unique to our airport. Not a lot of other airports have these type of doors, said Bjorkman. “It gives you audio direction while you’re going through them. Please stop. Please wait here. Door open. Things like that.”

The purpose of the doors is to control the flow of traffic, but they also prevent a threat from getting to the boarding area without pushing through multiple TSA guards.

“It has several layers of protection against letting people back into the sterile area, said Bjorkman. “We’re very confident in the set up that we have for our Flip-Flow doors.”

For passengers trying to meet their loved ones, the doors may slow you down, like they did for Jason Bolhuis who visits his family in Michigan every year.

“From someone who travels to many different airports, it was a nuisance, said Bolhuis. But, he understands why they are in place. “I can completely understand the security measure, and why that would be something they’d want to install, said Bolhuis. “I think having a secure airport is always important. You don’t want people getting into your airport with weapons or anything from there. And, you don’t want to be attacked. For the staff, slower is fine, especially if that means a safer airport.

“We don’t take security any less seriously than the larger airports, or even the smaller airports, said Bjorkman. “It is a topic in every one of our meetings. It is something that is discussed daily here. It’s never something we take lightly.”

Stunned by shootings

By John Miller [email protected]

Damian Herrera was known in the small town of La Madera as a quiet, respectful young man. He played on the basketball team at Mesa Vista High School. He had gone on to attend classes at University of New Mexico-Taos, where he was pursuing a pre-science degree. He was seeing a girl who spoke highly of him and said that he was close with his friends and family. But there was another side to Herrera, a side of him that seems to contradict nearly every statement given by those who recalled the young man they grew up with – the same man who allegedly shot and killed three of his family members – including his mother, Maria “Brenda” Rosita Gallegos – and two strangers on Thursday (June 15). Dolores Archuleta-Lopez, 65, Gallegos’ cousin, said that people in La Madera “grew up in loving families.” She was unaware of Herrera ever getting into trouble. “We’re all in shock that this happened,” she said.

Her disbelief is shared by the residents of La Madera, who struggle to grasp that a shooting of such magnitude and brutality could take place so close to their homes. That incredulity seems to have lent itself to early speculation that seemed to oversimplify what may have truly been behind the shootings – that Herrera must have been a drug user or, according to an initial police investigation, that Herrera allegedly shot and killed five people because he became enraged during an argument over a family vehicle. But as Herrera’s sister, Carissa Herrera, 16, watched her brother allegedly shoot to death her stepfather, Max Trujillo Sr., 55; brother, Brendon Herrera, 20; and mother, Gallegos, 49, at her family’s home Thursday afternoon, she said Damian Herrera turned to her with a blank stare on his face that she didn’t recognize. “That wasn’t my brother,” Carissa Herrera wrote in a post on her Facebook page four days after the shootings. The suspect could be seen wearing the same emotionless expression on his face as he appeared on a taped arraignment in R o Arriba Magistrate Court on Friday (June 16) after he was arrested Thursday night.

Stunned By Shootings

In an interview with Albuquerque-based KRQE-TV earlier this week, Carissa Herrera and her sister, Candice, said that he had been struggling with an undiagnosed mental illness for about two years. They said that “he would hear things” and that on the day of the violent shootings, he was scheduled for an “appointment.”

But they said Damian Herrera never actually went, as he “was scared.”

Police still don’t know for certain where the 21-year-old suspect actually traveled Thursday morning in a family truck he had taken without permission. The violent incident that transpired when he returned to his family’s home in the gray Toyota pickup, however, has been recorded in police reports in grisly detail. Carissa Herrera was inside the residence Thursday afternoon when she heard Damian Herrera and her stepfather arguing in the front yard over the pickup the suspect had taken. “Three to four gunshots” then rang out, according to her statements to police. She left the residence with her brother, Brendon Herrera, and her mother to discover Trujillo lying on the ground with gunshot wounds to his chest. Damian Herrera allegedly stood over the body with a black, short-barreled revolver. Carissa Herrera ran back inside to call 911 as Brendon Herrera attempted to wrestle the weapon from his brother. The suspect then allegedly shot Brendon Herrera in the neck. Gallegos rushed to her son’s side as he died of the injury. Damian Herrera then allegedly pointed the gun at his mother as she knelt on the ground, pleading with him not to shoot her as well. He then allegedly shot her in the head.

When police and emergency personnel arrived on the scene around 3:15 p.m., Brendon Herrera and Trujillo were pronounced dead where they lay. Gallegos would die of her injuries the next day.

Stunned By Shootings

What happened next is unclear. Following his arrest later Thursday night, Damian Herrera stated in an interview with police that he then hitched a ride with a fourth victim, Michael Kyte, 61, of Tres Piedras. Kyte’s wife returned home Thursday evening to find her husband with bullet holes in his chest, allegedly inflicted by the suspect before he stole Kyte’s Chevrolet Silverado. Kyte would also be pronounced dead when Taos County Emergency Services personnel arrived on the scene minutes later. It took police a few days to discover the location of the Toyota truck Damian Herrera had driven from the first crime scene in La Madera, which was discovered in the Tres Piedras area this week.

After allegedly shooting Kyte and stealing his vehicle, Damian Herrera then fled north along State Road 285, wending his way west through Antonito, Colorado, before turning south along State Road 84. It is also unclear whether the suspect stopped in Colorado or why he chose the route. An official at the Conejos County Sheriff’s Office said Monday (June 19) that his office was not looking into the incident. But R o Arriba County Sheriff James Lujan, 56, speculated that Herrera may have taken the roundabout route to throw police off his trail. Fleeing south, Damian Herrera stopped for gas at Bode’s General Store in Abiqui , southwest of La Madera. His fifth victim, Manuel Serrano, 59, a security officer at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, was filling up at a pump across from him. Security cameras captured the moment when the suspect finished filling his truck and Serrano then began running frantically around his vehicle. It is during these moments that police believe Herrera fatally shot Serrano.

Damian Herrera then drove the stolen truck south along State Road 84. Police caught up to him traveling at a “high rate of speed” near mile marker 202. Officials said Herrera was traveling so fast that he nearly crashed into a police vehicle traveling in the opposite lane. The suspect overcorrected, hitting a tree on the right-hand shoulder of the roadway. Herrera left the vehicle and “ran” at sheriff’s deputies, a “large” kitchen knife visible on his side, according to police reports. Herrera attempted to take one of the officer’s service weapons, which discharged during what police have described as a “scuffle.” The round fired injured no one. A deputy standing by subdued Herrera with a Taser.

Damian Herrera was arrested around 8:30 p.m. and incarcerated in R o Arriba County Thursday night. Shortly after his arrest, police say he admitted to shooting and killing all five victims.

Stunned By Shootings

He was initially charged with four counts of first-degree murder Friday morning, along with other charges stemming from the alleged crimes. When his mother, who had been kept on life support, died of her injuries Friday evening, a fifth count of murder was added. The suspect has been assigned a public attorney, who will provide defense counsel as the case moves through the court system.

The Latest: West Virginia bracing for remnants of Cindy

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – The Latest on Tropical Storm Cindy (all times local):

10:50 a.m.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) – The National Weather Service says it expects heavy rain to spread across West Virginia starting late Thursday and continuing into Saturday.

Meteorologists say a combination of two systems – remnants of former Tropical Storm Cindy and another storm front – could produce severe thunderstorms, flooding and damaging wind gusts particularly on Friday. Emergency officials are monitoring the forecast starting late Thursday night in the greater Charleston area with expected heavy rain at times continuing into Friday and early Saturday. The severe weather forecast comes nearly on the anniversary of last year’s torrential rains and flooding, which killed 23 people in West Virginia.

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10:00 a.m.

Forecasters say Cindy, the onetime tropical storm since downgraded to a depression, is weakening as it heads inland. But bands of heavy rain are continuing – with heavy rain in parts of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee. The National Hurricane Center in Miami says a tropical storm warning from High Island, Texas, to Morgan City, Louisiana, has been discontinued, hours after the storm made landfall. At 10 a.m. CDT Thursday, Cindy was about 165 miles (265 kilometers) northwest of Morgan City and moving to the north at 13 mph (20 kph).

A turn toward the northeast is expected. Cindy or its remnants are forecast to move into Arkansas early Friday, then into Tennessee. Forecasters warn that heavy rainfall will spread over the Tennessee and Ohio valleys Thursday. Then into the central Appalachians Friday and Saturday.

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9:55 a.m. Forecasters have issued a flash flood watch for eastern and southern Arkansas as Tropical Storm Cindy heads toward the state.

The National Hurricane Center says the storm is expected to weaken as its moves inland. The storm made landfall early Thursday in southwestern Louisiana. The National Weather Service in Little Rock says the remnants of Tropical Storm Cindy will move into southern Arkansas later Thursday, bringing scattered thunderstorms and some areas of heavy rainfall. Forecasters say areas south and east of Little Rock could see 2 to 5 inches of rain through Saturday morning.

The flash flood watch is in effect from 7 p.m. Thursday through Friday afternoon.

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8:10 a.m. Authorities in Florida are urging people to stay off the beaches and out of the Gulf of Mexico until weather conditions brought by Tropical Storm Cindy improve. Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford tells the News Herald deputies responded to 37 calls regarding swimmers in the Gulf on Tuesday as the storm brought heavy rain to Florida’s Panhandle.

The swimmers entered the water even though Panama City Beach was flying double-red flags, warning of dangerous conditions and extremely rough surf. Ford says lifeguards and deputies were fed up as tourists entered the water in spite of the warnings. There’s a law that bans swimming in the Gulf when double-red flags are flying. Ford says he’d rather people use common sense and not get in the water. There were no reports of injuries.

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8 a.m.

In southwest Louisiana, not far from where Tropical Storm Cindy came ashore before dawn, motorists in trucks were driving through knee-high water in the streets. Some other drivers, though, were pulling over Thursday morning and not attempting to navigate the flooded roads in Cameron Parish, Louisiana. Shortly after dawn, some of the low-lying clouds were rotating, and gusty winds whipped across the landscape.

With the storm now over land, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said it’s expected to weaken over the next two days. The storm was blamed for one death Wednesday: A 10-year-old boy from the St. Louis area was killed on an Alabama beach when he was struck by a log that washed ashore.

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7:15 a.m. Tropical Storm Cindy has brought heavy winds and rain to southeast Texas but minimal damage as the storm system moves northeast.

Street and other flooding was reported in places such as Port Arthur, along Sabine Pass and the border with Louisiana, where Cindy made landfall early Thursday. Winds in the Galveston County town of San Leon exceeded 50 mph but were slightly weaker along other parts of the Texas coast southeast of Houston. The Houston area was expected to get a couple inches of rain through Thursday. A flash flood watch was issued for parts of East Texas.

The Texas Department of Transportation says all state roads and bridges are open in the area.

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7 a.m. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Tropical Storm Cindy is expected to weaken as it moves farther inland after coming ashore in southwestern Louisiana early Thursday. The storm’s maximum sustained winds are near 40 mph (64 kph) and it’s expected to weaken to a tropical depression later in the morning and become a remnant low Thursday night.

As of 7 a.m. CDT, Cindy is centered about 40 miles (64 kilometers) northwest of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and is moving north near 12 mph (19 kph). Already, the storm has been blamed for one death Wednesday: A 10-year-old boy from the St. Louis area was killed on an Alabama beach when he was struck by a log that washed ashore.

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6 a.m. Floating colonies of fire ants could form in flood waters as Tropical Storm Cindy trudges inland.

That’s the warning from Alabama state officials, who say the insects known as red imported fire ants can present a potentially serious health threat to people and animals during severe flooding. The Alabama Cooperative Extension System said in a statement that the floating colonies may look like ribbons, streamers or a large ball of ants floating on the water. They say the floating blobs contain all members of the colony, including worker ants, winged reproductive males and females, and queen ants.

The storm made landfall in southwestern Louisiana before dawn Thursday, bringing rain and the threat of flash flooding and tornadoes.

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4:05 a.m. Tropical Storm Cindy has made landfall in southwestern Louisiana, bringing rain and the threat of flash flooding and tornadoes. As of about 4 a.m. CDT Thursday, the storm was centered about 30 miles (48 kilometers) west-southwest of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and is moving north near 12 mph (19 kph).

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Cindy’s maximum sustained winds have decreased to near 40 mph (64 kph) with continued weakening expected over the next two days. Already, the storm has been blamed for one death Wednesday: A 10-year-old boy from the St. Louis area was killed on an Alabama beach when he was struck by a log that washed ashore.

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2:05 a.m. Weather forecasters are expecting a third day of rough weather for Gulf Coast states as Tropical Storm Cindy approaches.

The storm was blamed for one death Wednesday: A 10-year-old boy from the St. Louis area was killed on an Alabama beach when he was struck by a log that washed ashore. In addition to bands of drenching rain, the storm brought high winds and numerous, short-lived tornadoes and waterspouts. Most of the severe weather was to the east of the storm. Numerous coastal roads and highways flooded and there were scattered reports of power outages and building damage from wind or water.
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Gulf Coast states were in for a third day of rough weather as Tropical Storm Cindy sloshed ashore early Thursday in southwestern Louisiana.

Already blamed for one death in Alabama, Cindy was expected to keep churning seas and spin off bands of severe weather from eastern Texas to northwestern Florida. The storm’s maximum sustained winds had decreased to near 40 mph (64 kph) Thursday morning with additional weakening expected, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. A boy on an Alabama beach was struck and killed Wednesday by a log washed ashore by the storm. Baldwin County Sheriff’s Capt. Stephen Arthur said witnesses reported the 10-year-old boy from Missouri was standing outside a condominium in Fort Morgan when the log, carried in by a large wave, struck him. Arthur said the youth was vacationing with his family from the St. Louis area and that relatives and emergency workers tried to revive him. He wasn’t immediately identified.

It was the first known fatality from Cindy. Otherwise, the storm was blamed for widespread coastal highway flooding, rough seas and scattered reports of power outages and building damage caused by high winds. There were numerous reports of waterspouts and short-lived tornadoes spawned by the storm. National Weather Service forecasters estimated the storm had dumped anywhere from 2 to 10 inches (50 to 250 millimeters) of rain on various spots along the Gulf Coast from southern Louisiana to the Florida panhandle as of Wednesday. And more rain was on the way. Alek Krautmann of the National Weather Service in Slidell, Louisiana, said Thursday’s pattern would likely be much like Wednesday’s: Bands of intermittent, sometimes heavy rain spinning onto the coast.

In Gulfport, Mississippi, Kathleen Bertucci said heavy rainfall Wednesday sent about 10 inches of water into her business, Top Shop, which sells and installs granite countertops.

“It’s pretty disgusting, but I don’t have flood insurance because they took me out of the flood zone,” said Bertucci, whose store is near a bayou. “We’re just trying to clean everything up and hope it doesn’t happen again.”

In nearby Biloxi, a waterspout moved ashore Wednesday morning. Harrison County Emergency Management Director Rupert Lacy said there were no injuries but fences, trees and power lines were damaged. Storms also downed trees in the Florida Panhandle. Fort Walton Beach spokeswoman Jo Soria said fallen trees hit houses and cars in what she called “pockets of wind damage” in two or three residential neighborhoods. The White House said President Donald Trump was briefed on the storm Wednesday by Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency, like his Alabama counterpart a day earlier. He was among authorities stressing that the storm’s danger wasn’t limited to the coast. In Knoxville, Tennessee, the power-generating Tennessee Valley Authority, said it was drawing down water levels on nine lakes it controls along the Tennessee River and its tributaries in Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky, anticipating heavy runoff from Cindy’s rains once the storm moves inland. The TVA manages 49 dams to regulate water, provide power and help control downstream flooding. In Alabama, streets were flooded and beaches were closed on the barrier island of Dauphin Island. Some roads were covered with water in the seafood village of Bayou La Batre, but Becca Caldemeyer still managed to get to her bait shop open at the city dock. If only there were more customers, she said.

“It’s pretty quiet,” Caldemeyer said by phone from Rough Water Bait and Tackle. “Nobody can cast a shrimp out in this kind of wind.”

Rough seas also led to the rescue of a shrimp trawler in danger of sinking off the coast of Texas. The U.S. Coast Guard said crew of the trawler Footprint was about 80 miles (130 kilometers) southeast of Galveston when the crew radioed that the vessel was taking on water faster than onboard pumps could clear it. A helicopter crew lowered and extra pump that enabled the shrimp boat crew to clear enough water to stay afloat. A Coast Guard cutter escorted the vessel to Freeport, Texas.

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Associated Press writers Janet McConnaughey in New Orleans; Melinda Deslatte in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Jeff Amy and Emily Wagster in Jackson, Mississippi; Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama; Kimberly Chandler in Montgomery, Alabama; and Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee, Florida, contributed to this report.

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