Updated at 7:49 a.m. ET: A murder suspect from Colorado appears to have attempted to hot-wire a SkyWest Airlines regional jet at the airport in St. George, Utah, overnight, then crashed it into a fence before killing himself, federal law enforcement authorities said Tuesday.
Brian Hedglin, 40, a pilot on leave from the regional carrier, broke into the plane, which was parked at the tiny airport in southwest Utah, authorities told NBC News. He got the plane started but clipped a wing before he got airborne and crashed the aircraft into a fence. He then shot himself dead, authorities say.
Hedglin was wanted by police in Colorado Springs in the slaying last week of his former girlfriend, 39-year-old Christina Cornejo.
At the time of Cornejo's slaying, Hedglin was free on $10,000 bond after being accused of harassing her.
Cornejo’s body was found Friday morning at a residence where police had been asked to do a welfare check.
The following day, authorities put out an alert for Hedglin.
According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, court records show that Hedglin had dated the victim for four years and was arrested in March for allegedly harassing her.
Hedglin was a part-time soldier with the Colorado Army National Guard, 9NEWS reported. The Guard told 9NEWS he was a food-service specialist with no other specialized military training and had never been deployed.
SkyWest told NBC News it is investigating how the man was able to gain access to the plane, which was sitting on the ramp at the St. George airport.
Meanwhile, federal regulations make it clear it’s up to the airline to ensure the plane is secured:
Each aircraft operator must use the procedures included, and the facilities and equipment described, in its security program to perform the following control functions with respect to each aircraft operation:
(a) Prevent unauthorized access to areas controlled by the aircraft operator under an exclusive area agreement in accordance with §1542.111 of this chapter.
(b) Prevent unauthorized access to each aircraft.
(c) Conduct a security inspection of each aircraft before placing it into passenger operations if access has not been controlled in accordance with the aircraft operator security program and as otherwise required in the security program.
(d) When operating under a full program or a full all-cargo program, prevent unauthorized access to the operational area of the aircraft while loading or unloading cargo.
Airport security and perimeter is up to the airport and local police, but must be approved by the federal Transportation Security Administration. The TSA says commercial airplane doors are not locked when parked.
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