A suspect has been arrested after allegedly entering an airport and removing his clothes before attempting to board a plane.
According to a press release obtained by NewsweekJavier Martinez, 33, of Chicago, Illinois, was arrested and charged with one count of criminal trespassing.
Authorities said Martinez was arrested at 4:31 p.m. Tuesday at Midway International Airport. He was identified as the individual who “moments earlier had illegally entered the airfield by scaling a security fence”.
“The assailant then boarded a plane which was about to take off,” the prosecution said.
WGN 9 reported that Martinez allegedly scaled a barbed wire fence near the tarmac and attempted to stop a small private jet. Chicago Police Department officials reportedly said the suspect also attempted to board the plane, going so far as to climb the wing before being apprehended.
Martinez, who reportedly stripped off his clothes on the track, appeared drunk and was later rushed to MacNeal Hospital for mental evaluation.
SkyCam9 was reportedly at the scene at the time of the incident, hinting at a heavy police presence.
“He’s here in front of the jet, looks like he’s trying to get in,” the air traffic control audio said.
The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) wrote to Newsweek that while all inquiries related to the incident are referred to the Chicago Police Department (CPD), the CDA has an approved security plan that meets all federal security regulations.
“These security protocols worked as intended,” the CDA said. “The response from CPD and airport security was swift and the impact on airport operations was minimal.”
A similar incident occurred in September 2021 when a man accessed Midway Airfield over the fence and was quickly apprehended. This case is still under investigation by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
Jessica Mayle, the regional spokeswoman for the TSA, said Newsweek that airport perimeter security is generally the responsibility of the airport, adding that airports develop security plans which they submit to the TSA for review.
“The TSA may also impose civil penalties in these incidents,” Mayle said. “However, this process can be quite lengthy.”
She referenced the TSA’s Enforcement Sanctions Guidance Policy, which states that “tampering with or interfering with, compromising, modifying, attempting to circumvent, or causing any person to tamper with or interfere with, compromise, modify or attempting to circumvent any security system, measure or procedure” may result in a civil fine ranging from $690 to $4,170.
A 2016 Associated Press investigation found intruders broke through security at one of 31 major U.S. airports on average every 13 days from early 2004 to mid-February. From 2012 to 2016, the average decreased every 9.5 days.
In December last year, a woman was arrested at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport after allegedly running onto the airport tarmac after trying to stop a plane that was about to take off without her. . The St. Louis, Missouri native reportedly ignored signs near the tarmac saying in at least two languages not to enter.
Newsweek contacted CPD for comment.
Updated 3/31/2022, 3:30 PM ET: This story has been updated with comments from the Chicago Department of Aviation.