WORCESTER (CBS) – There was a security breach at Worcester Airport on Wednesday. Massachusetts State Police say a Leominster man got on to the airfield, stole a fuel truck and drove it around an area where planes taxi.
Sources say the suspect, 31-year-old Laurence Murphy, tried to get in through a locked gate, then jumped the fence, which is covered with barbed wire around the entire airfield. Troopers found him strapped inside the cockpit of an empty plane used by firefighters for training exercises. They said he had black tar smeared on his face and was “speaking incoherently.”
When police asked Murphy what he was doing, he reportedly said “you figure it out.”
Before he scaled the fence, he allegedly threw a flashlight through the window of an airport employee’s pick-up truck and smeared the windows with tar.
“It’s just terrifying,” flyer Miriam Phillips said. “My family, my kids, commute from New York and we use this airport very, very often.”
Murphy is charged with trespassing, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, breaking and entering and malicious destruction of property. He was arraigned in court Thursday and released on personal recognizance.
When WBZ buzzed Murphy’s apartment on Friday, he answered using phrases a pilot would use, but then became incoherent. Police later responded to an emergency call at the apartment.
State Police do not believe he posed a threat of terrorism and are advising that he receive a mental health evaluation.
“It’s as silly as trying to break into a prison,” aviation expert David Price told WBZ. “You’re going to get caught.”
David Price is calling the breach disturbing, especially after learning Murphy allegedly stole a fuel truck. He says it’s very unlikely though that someone without security clearance would be able to get inside a locked commercial cockpit. “Getting into an airplane is a much more difficult task and they can’t just take off,” Price said.
A Massport spokeswoman shared the following statement with WBZ-TV on Friday:
Immediately after the incident on Wednesday evening, the State Police did a comprehensive sweep of the impacted airport area, as well as the wider security perimeter to ensure there were no other potential threats. The incident ended quickly after a tenant employee appropriately notified law enforcement.
Massport and the State Police have reviewed all security procedures and protocols at the airport. Security measures at Massport facilities are multi-layered and consistent with TSA regulations, and appropriately coordinated with other federal, state and local law enforcement partners.
Safety and security is our top priority and we remain confident that the facility is safe.