ORLANDO, Fla. — A TSA union representative says there's no doubt in his mind that hardships from the recent partial government shutdown played a role in the public suicide of a TSA worker at Orlando International Airport over the weekend.
- Union rep says TSA worker who killed self expressed stress from shutdown
- Orlando Police release identity of TSA worker who jumped into atrium
- Rep has been invited to attend State of the Union by Rep. Val Demings
Robert Henry, 36, died after jumping Saturday morning from the Terminal A-side balcony of the Hyatt Regency hotel, which is inside the airport, Orlando Police said Monday. The Medical Examiner's Office ruled his death a suicide.
Henry's death happened just yards away from two Transportation Security Administration screening areas, which had to be shut down for several hours, shocking travelers and snarling air traffic. Travelers told Spectrum News 13 that TSA workers told them to run — even through security — after chaos erupted when witnesses reported hearing a loud noise in the airport’s atrium just before 10 a.m. Saturday.
Hundreds of people had to be rescreened — some even had already boarded their flight and were asked to go back through the checkpoint. About 100 Southwest flights were canceled.
The union representative, Ralph Velez, said Henry had been mostly working in baggage screening lately. He said when the union recently handed out gas cards to TSA workers — who had to work without pay during the shutdown — Henry expressed that the stress from the shutdown was getting to him.
Velez has been invited by Rep. Val Demings as her guest for President Donald Trump's State of the Union address in Washington on Tuesday. Velez said what happened at Orlando International Airport over the weekend makes it even more important that they stress to D.C. lawmakers that another shutdown doesn’t happen.
An airport spokesperson said airport management had planned to meet Monday afternoon to review their response to the incident.
Counseling services are available for federal workers through the Community Emergency Response Team, which can offer services for workers going through troubling times. Also, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255 for anyone who needs someone to talk to.