“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the officer’s family, friends and everyone in our TSA family,” the Transportation Security Administration said in a statement
An off-duty Transportation Security Administration officer fell to his death at the Orlando International Airport in what police have described as an apparent suicide.
TSA confirmed the officer’s death in a statement on Saturday, writing that the agent “fell from a hotel balcony inside Orlando International Airport this morning and is deceased.”
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the officer’s family, friends and everyone in our TSA family,” the statement continued.
A spokesperson for TSA told the Washington Post that the officer, who has not yet been named, “had just clocked out” before his death.
According to Orlando police, the agent ”jumped from the Hyatt Regency Hotel into the atrium area of the airport,” which is located near the security lines frequented by families traveling in and out of Central Florida on theme-park vacations.
The individual, who police described as “a male in his 40s,” was found by police “in critical condition and transported to the hospital where he was pronounced deceased.”
“Preliminary information suggests an apparent suicide,” police wrote in a statement shared on social media.
The investigation is ongoing.
In addition to causing flight and screening delays, the incident resulted in brief panic and chaos for travelers, who did not immediately understand what happened.
One passenger told local Spectrum News 13 that she was waiting in line to be screened when the TSA agent fell to his death. After hearing a loud bang, “I saw the TSA agents standing up, and all of a sudden they just told us to run, to just go through the screening,” she said.
Another passenger also attested to seeing people “running everywhere,” telling the Washington Post that she first thought the sound came from a firearm.
In a statement released on social media, the airport said all passengers in the area “were required to be rescreened as a security precaution.”
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Addressing the ongoing delays caused by the incident, the Orlando International Airport announced on Twitter that passengers should plan on arriving early.
Later on Saturday morning, the airport announced that although “the east checkpoint wait time is now <15 mins,” several flights had been canceled.
“Passengers are advised to contact their airline for flight status, esp Southwest passengers. Residual delays possible as airline partners work toward normal ops. Thanks again for your patience,” the airport wrote.
As of 4 p.m, 105 flights from the airport were delayed and 46 were canceled, according to flight-tracking site FlightAware.com. Additionally, 47 flights coming into the airport had been delayed, while 73 were canceled.
The delays also extended to passengers waiting to arrive at the airport.
One passenger who flew into Orlando from Michigan via Southwest Airlines told WKMG that his plane was held for over 90 minutes before taxiing into the gate.
TSA agents were among the government employees who worked without pay during the recent partial government shutdown, which lasted for 35 days.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “home” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.