California’s John Wayne airport was placed on lockdown after a man stole a vehicle before disappearing inside a terminal.
The suspect, who has since been apprehended and taken into custody, breached security to access an employees-only area on Friday evening. He took control of an airport vehicle and drove it across the tarmac by Terminal C.
Airport staff then lost track of the man, who has not yet been identified. Officials activated their emergency response system at around 6pm, evacuating the terminal and grounding planes, as an urgent search for him took place across the grounds.
A police dog was brought in to help with the hunt inside the airport, while an Orange County Sheriff’s Department helicopter swept the airfield.
Several aircraft were seen lined up on the runway, unable to take off, as passengers sat outside and waited for updates.
After a search of the airport, the suspect was eventually found hiding in the attic space above the terminal ceiling. He was talked down and taken into custody by authorities.
“The man was later located in the ceiling on the non-secure side of the terminal,” said the Orange County Sheriff’s Department in a statement. “He was taken into custody without further incident and will be booked into Orange County Jail.”
At around 8.30pm, airport officials announced that the terminal was reopened and passengers were being processed, although flight delays and cancellations were expected.
The Sheriff’s Department and airport staff are investigating the security breach and looking into how the man was able to access the airfield.