A scuffle with a man who reached for one of four loaded guns he brought to the Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport Thursday afternoon ended with the suspect in custody and no injuries.
Medford police said the situation could have ended much differently.
“We’re very fortunate that this wasn’t a deadly force situation,” said Lt. Mike Budreau, public information officer.
Medford police arrested Anthony James Anderson, 33, after he refused to comply with airport security’s commands to leave. He is charged with first- and second-degree attempted assault, trespassing, resisting arrest and unlawful possession of a firearm.
Medford police and Jerry Brienza, airport director, said Anderson had approached the security checkpoint without identification or a boarding pass requesting to board an airplane. He was openly carrying a handgun in a shoulder holster, according to an MPD press release.
The checkpoint officer denied Anderson entry, and Brienza, who was on the floor at the time, said Anderson began pacing in the lobby area.
While airport staff began to clear passengers from the vicinity, moving them through security at the second level and routing arriving passengers to another side of the terminal, airport security told Anderson to leave.
He refused. Airport staff called Medford police.
When MPD officers arrived, however, Anderson still did not comply, at which point the police officers trespassed him and tried to take him into custody. Anderson reached for his gun during the struggle, but officers pulled his hand away and arrested him.
Medford police found three additional loaded handguns and more ammunition during their search.
Budreau said that second made the difference in whether or not people were seriously hurt.
“You have fractions of a second to make the decision to pull hands off of the gun or completely disengage,” he said.
Anderson is lodged in the Jackson County Jail on $30,000 bail.
Both Budreau and Brienza said that calls like this at the airport are a rarity, but Brienza said training for situations such as an active shooter helped keep staff calm as they tried to direct other passengers away from Anderson.
That passengers were mostly compliant with airport staff’s instructions also helped maintain calm, he said.
“I would just say if you’re coming to an airport and have an authority from the airport asking you to quietly move to another area, just comply,” he said. “We don’t do that just to do that.”