One of the last places you expect to experience gang crossfire is while in an airplane. However, some unlucky Mexican passengers recently got stuck in a serious airport shooting.
For one husband traveling with his wife and three kids, the experience was nothing short of a nightmare. He and his family were returning home from spending Christmas with family, but 2023 did not start as planned.
Let’s examine this story and several other incidents occurring at airports around the globe.
Where Did the Gang Crossfire Fire Happen?
An Aeromexico flight was leaving from Culiacan toward Mexico City. Unfortunately, as they were preparing for takeoff, passengers quickly hit the floor as gunfire erupted around them.
There had been gunfire in the area the night before, and travelers encountered roadblocks on the way to the airport. However, security and law enforcement never warned them of any potential issues.
Culiacan is on the west coast of Central Mexico. It is several hours north of Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta. The US State Department gives Culiacan a safety rating of four, so they do not advise citizens to travel to the area.
What Happened During the Crossfire?
David Tellez and his family watched as a military aircraft touched down shortly before their plane was to depart the airport according to schedule. However, gunfire erupted around the aircraft as their plane accelerated for takeoff. The plane could not take off, and the passengers had to exit and wait in a windowless space inside the airport.
The family would not get home that day as the area wasn’t safe. They planned to leave the next day once things calmed down. Once they reached home, they prepared to stay put and away from the shooting and confusion in the city.
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What’s the Reason for the Shootout?
Ovidio Guzman, the son of an infamous drug lord El Chapo, was arrested. He is a senior member of the Sinaloa cartel. Authorities captured him at his home after a 10-hour gun battle. Officials stated he had nearly 50 weapons in his bedroom, including an anti-aircraft gun.
The airport shooting was not the only violence to occur that day. People made highway blockades and set vehicles on fire as hundreds of supporters took to the streets. Authorities raided his home when they captured him, but several factions evaded capture.
Were There Any Injuries?
The passengers of Flight AM 165 were fortunate. While bullet holes littered the airplane and punctured the fuselage, there were no injuries. However, burned vehicles and other violence occurred outside the airport and the surrounding area. CNN reported that throughout the violent clashes, more than 19 suspected gang members and 10 military personnel died.
Other Known Airport Shootings
Unfortunately, the Culiacan airport violence was not the only recent shooting. There have been a handful of other incidents that have taken place at airports. A few of these occurred in the United States. Let’s take a look!
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport Shooting
On January 6, 2017, a 26-year-old man named Esteban Santiago opened fire in the baggage claim area of Terminal 2 of the airport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The shooting resulted in five deaths and six injuries.
Santiago, a former member of the U.S. Army, flew from Anchorage, Alaska, to Fort Lauderdale with a checked handgun in his luggage. He retrieved his luggage from the baggage carousel and went into a bathroom to load the weapon. He then came out and began firing at passengers and airport personnel in the baggage claim area.
The courts charged Santiago with several federal crimes, including 11 counts of performing an act of violence against a person at an airport serving international civil aviation and five counts of causing the death of a person through the use of a firearm. He eventually pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced to life without parole.
Dallas Love Field Airport Shooting
The Dallas Love Field Airport shooting occurred on June 10, 2016. Shawn Diamond, who had a history of mental illness, shot and killed a bystander and injured several others near a baggage claim area inside the airport.
He arrived at the airport with his girlfriend, who was trying to leave town. They got into an argument near the baggage claim area, and Diamond pulled out a gun and began shooting.
Police officers already at the airport for routine patrols responded to the scene and ordered Diamond to drop his weapon. When he refused, they fired multiple shots, instantly killing him.
The victim of the shooting was a 63-year-old man named Kenneth Wade McDavid. He was standing nearby when a stray bullet hit him. Several others suffered injuries, but McDavid was the only fatal casualty.
Los Angeles International Airport Shooting
The Los Angeles International Airport shooting occurred on November 1, 2013. Paul Anthony Ciancia opened fire at Terminal 3 of the airport, killing a TSA officer and injuring several others.
Ciancia arrived at the airport with a bag containing a semiautomatic rifle and several hundred rounds of ammunition. He entered Terminal 3, proceeded to the TSA checkpoint, and began shooting at TSA officers and passengers.
The shooting caused widespread panic and chaos in the airport, with passengers and employees running for safety. Police officers eventually shot and subdued Ciancia.
After an investigation, authorities believed the shooting was a deliberate attack on the TSA. Ciancia had written and signed a note expressing his hatred for the agency and his intention to kill TSA officers. Ciancia had no known ties to terrorism, and officials charged him with murder and other federal crimes. The courts later sentenced him to life without parole.
Cancun International Airport Shooting
A shooting broke out at Cancun International Airport on March 28, 2022. While Cancun is typically relatively safe, there have been several instances of gunfire breaking out at beaches and resorts in the area.
While no one reported injuries from the March 28, 2022 incident, violence resulted in the death of two Canadians 45 miles south of Cancun in January. To keep travelers safe and ease any concerns, armed police were deployed to the area to prevent potentially violent behavior.
Canberra Airport Shooting
On August 14, 2022, a 63-year-old man from New South Wales fired several shots inside Canberra airport in Australia. The man pulled his weapon around 1:25 PM and began firing it into windows.
Thankfully, no one was harmed in the shooting. However, the airport terminal where the incident occurred evacuated all occupants as a precautionary measure. The airport resumed normal operations by 5 PM that afternoon.
What Was the Aftermath of the Crossfire?
The airline staff ordered passengers to exit the plane. They proceeded to a windowless area with increased security. Passengers had to make other travel arrangements. However, David Tellez and his family planned to leave the following day to get home as quickly as possible.
Always Be Aware at the Airport
It’s crucial always to be aware of your surroundings and exercise caution when traveling through airports. While airport security measures have improved significantly in recent years, violence, terrorism, and other threats can still occur.
To minimize the risks of such incidents, it’s essential to follow all airport security guidelines and immediately report any suspicious behavior or activity to airport personnel or law enforcement.
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