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Man accused of causing Las Vegas airport chaos was in rush to get home, police say

Updated August 17, 2022 - 9:04 pm

Update 8/17/22: Airport chaos suspect likely had mental health episode, attorney says

A California man accused of causing the Sunday chaos at Harry Reid International Airport was apprehended with the help of Spirit Airlines employees after he charged through a secured airport area, police said in a newly released arrest report.

Stefan Hutchison, 33, of Oakland, was arrested after a man ran through a secured door at Terminal 1 of the airport as Spirit Airlines employees were trying to help him at 4:30 a.m., Las Vegas police said.

Police said the episode caused a panic for travelers when a series of 10 loud banging noises that sounded like gunshots caused people to run from the area. The sounds actually were caused by stanchions, or line dividers, falling, but police said the noises terrified travelers.

An officer wrote in Hutchison’s arrrest report of seeing “hundreds of frightened citizens fleeing” from a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint, bypassing security without being screened.

Police said people were “trampling over each other attempting to escape the area.”

Hutchison was arrested and later told police that he had been in a hurry to go home, police said.

“Hutchison stated he arrived to Las Vegas on United Airlines on Friday and that he was ready to go back home as soon as possible,” police said. “Hutchison said he had a flight scheduled to leave on Monday on United Airlines but couldn’t wait. He would not give any further explanation to his actions.”

Police said that a Spirit employee who tried to stop the man was shoved and hit her head on a wall. She and another Spirit employee were taken to a hospital for treatment, police said.

Sunday was the second time that Hutchison was arrested at the airport in 24 hours, police said.

On Saturday morning, Hutchison was arrested after police said a man walked past two TSA agents at a screening checkpoint. The man ran into a Hudson News store and exited with a $170 pair of sunglasses he did not pay for, police said, before he was arrested while flailing his arms and kicking his feet.

“The subject was sweating profusely, yelling and did not comply with officer’s command,” police said, adding the man still had the sunglasses in his hands.

Hutchison was booked at the Clark County Detention Center on misdemeanor counts of resisting an officer and public conduct at the airport Saturday and released on his own recognizance, then returned to the airport Sunday morning, police said. Las Vegas Justice Court records show he has been charged with two felony counts of burglary of a business in connection with the events at the airport Sunday.

Contact Glenn Puit at gpuit@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter.

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