Attempted Helicopter Thief Shot To Death Before He Could Take Off

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – A man was fatally shot by police Monday after seizing a helicopter at gunpoint near Portland, Oregon, the authorities said.

The man, who was not been identified, hopped a fence at Hillsboro Airport and then approached a flight instructor and a student who were inside a helicopter that was warming up, Hillsboro police Lt. Henry Reimann said.

The man ordered them to get out, firing at least one round during the encounter. The shot, and maybe a second misfire, were directed away from the victims, Reimann said.

The man got into the helicopter, but officers arrived before he could take off, Reimann said. “He jumps out the helicopter and starts running, runs across the street, and we engage him out in a field,” he said.

The man died at the scene shortly before noon. No other injuries were reported.

Investigators have to yet to establish the man’s motive for trying to steal the helicopter, Reimann said. The man did not reveal his plans to the flight instructor and student, he said.

A witness, Christopher Neal, told reporters that he and his family were watching planes at the small airport when he saw a man walking in wearing a gray hoodie. “He had his hands in his pockets, and for a moment I thought to myself that it was a little warm for the big, thick, gray hoodie with the hood over it,” Neal said.

While finishing that thought, the man looked at them and then started running toward the fence. He pulled a gray mask over his face, Neal said.

The Hillsboro Airport, established in 1928, is one of three airports operated by the Port of Portland. It’s about a 40-minute drive west of the Portland International Airport, the region’s main airport.

The Hillsboro Aero Academy is the flight-training school at the airport. Its representatives did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

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Follow Steven DuBois at twitter.com/pdxdub

 

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.

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