Vandalism shuts down airport

Published 6:00 am Monday, March 31, 2003

The Brookhaven Municipal Airport remained closed for night-timetraffic Monday after all of the runway lights were vandalizedSaturday night, airport officials said.

Boyce Bullock, airport manager, said approximately 90 lights andtheir protective globes were destroyed along the runway.

“It’s a mile long, and they got every one of them on bothsides,” Bullock said.

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Bullock said the vandalism was reported around 8:30 a.m. Sunday.He said the lights were still on when a nearby convenience storeclosed at 11:30 p.m. Saturday.

The glass in a courtesy car for airport visitor use was alsoknocked out, Bullock said.

“I can’t find anything else that looks like it was tamperedwith,” Bullock said.

Bullock said the Federal Aviation Administration and otherfederal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security,were contacted and the airport was totally shut down Sunday.Bullock said Brookhaven Police officials were at the facilitySunday afternoon as part of their investigation.

Brookhaven Police Chief Pap Henderson said the department had noleads in the case. He said he was also checking with federalauthorities about the possibility of federal charges.

“Right now, we don’t have anything to go on,” Hendersonsaid.

The chief asked that anyone having information about thevandalism contact the police department.

“I feel it’s very dangerous,” Henderson said about thevandalism.

Bullock said it appears the globes were kicked off and thelights removed and tossed onto the runway.

“We had to sweep the runway to get all the glass off,” Bullocksaid.

Bullock said he would be contacting the FAA today to notify themthat the glass had been removed. He said that would allow theairport to reopen for daylight traffic.

“We can have daylight traffic, but we can’t have any night-timetraffic until we get the lights back on,” Bullock said.

Bullock said an electrician was coming to inspect the lightfixtures today. If the needed lights are in inventory and can besent overnight, he said the lights could be back on possibly byTuesday night or Wednesday.

Bullock did not have an estimate on replacement costs. Dr. JimBarnett, an avid flyer, indicated it could be expensive.

“You’re talking about several thousands of dollars,” hesaid.

Bullock said the airport is staffed Monday through Friday from 8a.m. to 5 p.m., with someone on-call on Saturdays and Sundays. Afuel card system allows pilots to obtain fuel 24 hours a day,Bullock said.