Man with Nazi neck tattoo prompts airport lockdown, found hiding in ceiling

Orange Country, California airport evacuation prompted by man breaking into terminal wearing staff jumpsuit, driving down runway in vehicle.

Dan Verbin ,

Orange County
Orange County
iStock

A man with a Nazi neck tattoo caused a security lockdown at Orange Country, California’s John Wayne Airport on Friday and was later found hiding in a terminal ceiling.

John Howard Hecker, 51, of San Diego was previously convicted in 2008 of smuggling people across the US southern border and in 2013 of armed robberies in San Diego and Orange County, California, reported the Orange Country Register.

According to court documents, Hecker – who has a tattoo of two Nazi SS bolts on his neck – has a record of serious crimes going back 15 years.

On Tuesday, Orange County prosecutors charged Hecker with felony counts of theft and vandalism, and a misdemeanor airport trespassing charge, for breaking into John Wayne Airport.

Hecker was alleged to have broken into the airport on Friday. The security breach led to a three-hour search of the complex by Orange Country Sheriff’s deputies and a helicopter.

The airport also went into security lockdown, with passengers evacuated and planes stranded on the tarmac.

According to the Sheriff’s office, Hecker was seen wearing a white airport worker jumpsuit he likely changed into after breaking into the airport. Witnesses saw him driving an airport vehicle down runways and then disappearing.

During their search of the airport, deputies found debris on an upper flood between two terminals, which led them to the discovery that Hecker was inside the ceiling, reported KTLA 5.

Later, a crisis negotiator was brought in to persuade Hecker to leave his ceiling hiding place.

A video from the encounter showed police encouraging Hecker to use a ladder to climb down. He was then handcuffed.

Officials would not say why Hecker may have broken into the airport. A security review of the airport by the federal government is ongoing.



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