Airport Police Chief Says Shooting Investigation Could Take Six Months
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) _ The investigation into the shooting of a United Airlines jet that was landing at Raleigh-Durham Airport could take up to six months to complete, the airport’s police chief said Friday.
A passenger was hit by fragments of the bullet that pierced the fuselage as the Washington-bound Boeing 737, carrying 16 people, landed Wednesday.
In a 1983 incident, it took investigators about five to six months to piece together information when a small plane was fired on by juveniles as it landed, said Police Chief Don Paschall. There were no injuries in that incident.
A spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board said Friday that people shooting at planes are ″very rare″ and neither agency keeps statistics on such incidents.
The injured passenger, Barry Rollins, 30, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was in stable condition Friday at Rex Hospital in Raleigh, where he was treated for wounds to his jaw and thigh, a hospital spokeswoman said. Rollins has declined all requests for interviews.
Bill Zahn, manager of United Airlines at the airport, said Rollins told him he didn’t see anything out the window when he was struck by the bullet.
″I was surprised and delighted that the doctors had done such a good job of working on his face,″ Zahn said. ″He has a back eye and a puffy face ... but he’s in very good spirits and is trying to laugh about the whole thing.
The doctor who treated Rollins said the bullet taken out of Rollins was so fragmented that there was no way to determine what caliber it was.
Steve Carpenter of the State Bureau of Investigation said because the plane was flying fairly low as it approached the airport nearly any gun would have had the power to hit it from the ground to the plane.
Paschall said no one has been arrested in the shooting, but said his office has received several calls from people who said they may have seen people in the area where the shooting apparently took place.
A member of the Wake County Board of Commissioners said he may ask the board to look into additional regulations against firing guns around the airport.
The airport, located at Morrisville between Raleigh and Durham, is a popular place for hunters, according to one area resident.
″The closer they (deer hunters) can get to the airport, the better,″ said G. Wayne Perry, who helps run the Morrisville Gulf and Grocery. ″There are tons of deer on the airport property. There’s a lot of hunting going on.″