- Associated Press - Thursday, April 9, 2015

PHOENIX (AP) - A dozen times in the past decade, people have breached the perimeter security fences or gates at Phoenix’s international airport, including a woman who drove her car onto the runway and a man who banged on the side of a jet.

The 12 are among the 268 breaches nationally that an Associated Press investigation found at 31 major U.S. airports from January 2004 through January 2015.

The breaches at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport came despite numerous security upgrades after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Airport officials spent $10 million to upgrade perimeter security and access gates after a man involved in a police pursuit in 2005 crashed a stolen pickup through a fence and drove onto the runaways, passing several jets on a taxiway.

The airport is currently upgrading secondary barriers at various gates because of normal wear and tear, officials said. More police patrols and contract security employees have been added in recent years.

Nationally, incidents identified by AP ranged from fence jumpers taking shortcuts and intoxicated drivers crashing through barriers to mentally ill intruders looking to hop flights. None was terrorism-related.

Airports say breaches are relatively rare. Security measures typically include fences, cameras and patrols, but there are gaps. Not all of the miles of fences are routinely patrolled or covered by video surveillance.

The Phoenix incidents include cases where some offenders received little punishment.

Robert Edward Bump was arrested Christmas Day 2013 after he scaled a roughly 9-foot fence topped with barbed wire and ran onto the tarmac, banging on the engine of an arriving Southwest Airlines plane. He was taken into custody a few minutes later after another pilot spotted him.

Police said Bump was homeless and showed signs of drug and alcohol impairment. He was booked on a misdemeanor charge of entering a restricted area at the airport. Bump pleaded guilty and was sentenced to seven days in jail but given credit for time served, according to Phoenix Municipal Court records.

He was also placed on probation for one year.

In November 2012, Koko Nicole Anderson crashed through a partially open gate and drove on the runway with her infant son in the car. Investigators say she hit a portable toilet and was headed toward a jet-fuel storage area before an officer rammed her car and caused it to crash into a fence. She was found with a pacifier in her mouth, authorities said.

Her case is still ongoing. Anderson pleaded not guilty to six felony counts, including child abuse and criminal trespassing. In a November 2014 court motion, her lawyer said blood tests came back negative for drugs and alcohol, and she was experiencing a psychotic episode at the time of the crash.

Airport officials say Anderson, now 23, caused $13,500 in damage.


Associated Press writer Jacques Billeaud contributed to this report.

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