A 35-year-old Southern Pines man was arrested after stealing an airport trash truck and crashing it into a building at Pittsburgh International Airport on Friday evening, according to a news release from Allegheny County Police Department. A criminal complaint said the man had a blood-alcohol level of 0.235 percent.
According to the complaint, Harry Griffith was charged with recklessly endangering another person, harassment, ethnic intimidation, criminal mischief, theft by unlawful taking, unauthorized use of automobiles and driving under the influence.
An airport employee told Allegheny County Police he saw the suspect drive the maintenance truck through glass doors of a moving walkway and crashed into a cement pillar causing the airbags to deploy.
“It was learned that the Airport Authority employee had parked his vehicle to collect trash from receptacles near the building,” said the news release from the Allegheny County Police Department. “After he had exited and began gathering the trash, he heard the vehicle and turned to see it being driven into the building. The driver then jumped out of the vehicle and ran and was followed by the airport employee.”
The employee followed the man into the parking lot. Griffith then started chasing the worker where he ran between cars to get away from the suspect, according to Trib Live. Griffith fell on the ground as authorities were arriving on the scene.
It was reported that Griffith used a racial slur at two people during the incident.
“In their investigation, police spoke with two witnesses who said they drove into the long-term lot when they were encountered by a bearded male,” said Trib Live. “The man asked them for a light, and when they said they did not have one, the man said a racial slur, officials said.”
Griffith’s wife told WRAL TV that she believes her husband was “having a flashback of combat” and that “he thought he was at an airport in Syria that had come under attack.” She also told WRAL TV that Griffith has been in California for almost a year now at rehab for PTSD and alcohol abuse.
Feature photo courtesy of Allegheny County Police Department.