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Suspect crashes gate, shuts down Duluth airport

DULUTH, Minn. -- A 36-year-old Duluth man faces multiple felony and possible federal charges after he crashed a vehicle through the gated fence near Cirrus Aircraft early Friday, Nov. 23, before speeding onto the runway and forcing an emergency c...

A man crashed his vehicle
A man crashed his vehicle through a gate at Cirrus Design at the Duluth International Airport early Friday morning, Nov. 23. The mangled gate is shown here Friday afternoon. Bob King / Forum News Service

DULUTH, Minn. - A 36-year-old Duluth man faces multiple felony and possible federal charges after he crashed a vehicle through the gated fence near Cirrus Aircraft early Friday, Nov. 23, before speeding onto the runway and forcing an emergency closure of the Duluth International Airport.

The closure remained in place until the man was apprehended.

“We shut the airport down for about 30-40 minutes today, obviously due to the possible threat and the unknown,” airport spokesperson Natalie Peterson said. “We’re happy it ended the way it did. It was the best ending we could ask for - with very little interruption and no injuries.”

One flight was delayed and a FedEx plane had to circle overhead while the episode played out before sunrise, Peterson added.

The man was stopped in the airfield and taken into custody. He is scheduled to be charged with a pair of first-degree counts - criminal damage to property and fleeing police in a motor vehicle - and fourth-degree driving under the influence of a controlled substance.

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The FBI “does not believe that the incident was ‘terrorism-related in any way,” a Duluth Police Department news release said.

A member of the airport’s maintenance personnel was working in the airfield and heard the noise of the vehicle crashing through a gated section of security fence near Cirrus, Peterson said.

The worker immediately called 911, eliciting a large law enforcement response beginning just after 7 a.m.

 

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