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Denver airport plans new security lanes to ease wait times

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Denver airport plans new security lanes to ease wait times

As long security lines snaked throughout the terminal below, Denver International Airport CEO Phil Washington said Friday that efforts were underway to temporarily add new screening lanes and deal with other challenges from a resurgence in passenger traffic.

“We are doing everything that we possibly can to reduce the wait times in security lines,” Washington said during a news conference. “We’re doing everything that we possibly can to open up off-site parking lots. We’re doing everything that we possibly can to make sure concessions are open. We’re doing everything that we possibly can to make sure restrooms are clean.

“The increased passenger volumes have had an impact on how this airport operates — and that is undeniable.”

He outlined plans that include working with the Transportation Security Administration to squeeze four temporary screening lanes into the 12 lanes at the south checkpoint. TSA has agreed to staff them, he said, citing a recent meeting with the agency’s leader in Washington, D.C.

But that relief likely will take until early next year, Washington said, and will alleviate — but not eliminate — the long lines.

“I think the holiday period will be tough … as we build out additional lanes in this airport,” he said. “But I see light at the end of the tunnel.”

Until then, DIA officials advise travelers to arrive at least two hours before their flights’ boarding times to give themselves enough time. Washington said wait time estimates will be added back to DIA’s website soon, and the airport is working on signage that would tell people in line how long they can expect.

Another reprieve is nearer: In the next week, construction walls in the terminal’s midsection will come down as the first phase of a massive renovation project ends. Travelers will face fewer walls blocking their paths, and Southwest and United airlines will move into reconfigured and expanded check-in spaces in early November.

Washington, who took the helm at DIA in July, succeeded Kim Day after her retirement ended a 13-year tenure. He called Friday’s news conference late in a month that has laid bare significant challenges facing the airport.

Surging passenger traffic — DIA has become the third-busiest airport in the world this year — has resulted in those long security screening lines at peak times, including Friday mornings. Parking has nearly run out on recent weekends, forcing DIA and its contractor to scramble to temporarily reopen the shuttered Pikes Peak shuttle lot. It’s open again Friday and Saturday in anticipation of big crowds.

That lot hasn’t reopened permanently from its pandemic closure because of a driver shortage at the airport’s shuttle-bus contractor, though Washington said he’s working on contractual changes that might include allowing the company to use vans that don’t require new hires to have a commercial driver’s license. The airport is aiming to reopen the lot fully before Thanksgiving, but that’s not a sure thing.

Hundreds of jobs are open at the airport, including dozens with its shuttle operator, ABM. Concessionaires are having a job fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday in Denver at Empower Field in the United Club Level West, via the stadium’s Gate 2.

Besides widespread worker shortages, other big DIA contractors have experienced public labor strife this month over wages and other issues, with one company’s unionized janitors mounting a one-day strike Oct. 1 and another’s perimeter security staff threatening to walk mid-month.

The terminal construction project has complicated the security crowding. But the long-running $770 million Great Hall renovation project isn’t expected to have as big of an impact on navigating the terminal during the second phase or a potential third phase, both of which are focused on building new — and larger — security checkpoints on the upper level in coming years.

Still, the start of second-phase work in August resulted in closing four of 12 north checkpoint screening lanes to make room for construction. Adding four new lanes in the south checkpoint would simply offset that loss. DIA also has eight screening lanes on the bridge to Concourse A.

Washington speculated that the main factors in DIA’s surge were a resurgence in leisure travel late in the pandemic — while business travel still lags — as well as its central location as a connecting U.S. airport. Lately it’s been the busiest hub for United, Southwest and Frontier airlines all at once.

“This is unprecedented for a U.S. airport to be the largest operation for three airlines,” he said.

Before air travel plummeted during the pandemic, DIA’s passenger traffic reached a record 69 million in 2019. Washington said its projections are that the airport, after a rapid recovery this year, will beat that number next year, with 72.8 million passengers expected.

Washington looked ahead to other priorities that include catching up on maintaining the expanding airport’s existing facilities and equipment. And DIA’s “Vision 100” initiative is planning for the next phase of growth — for when the airport hits 100 million passengers a year. Washington even spoke of a time in 30 or so years when 150 million is in the realm of possibility.

He also addressed the Aug. 20 breakdown of one of DIA’s underground concourse trains, which shut down one side of the system and resulted in hours of delays, both on the platform and in backed-up security screening.

The culprit was a metal part in a wheel assembly that ripped up a tire and resulted in track damage when the train car dragged on it, he said.

“It’s a huge vulnerability for the airport,” Washington said of that train system, which is the only way to reach concourses B and C.

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Official: Michigan boy discussed killing students in video

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Oxford High School shooting: Fourth student dies

By COREY WILLIAMS and ED WHITE

OXFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Authorities say a 15-year-old boy charged in a shooting at a Michigan high school recorded video night before violence in which he discussed killing students.

The revelation was made by Oakland County Sheriff’s Lt. Tim Willis during a court hearing for Ethan Crumbley.

Crumbley is accused of killing four students and injuring seven others Tuesday at Oxford High School. He’s charged as an adult with murder, attempted murder and terrorism causing death. Willis made the comments shortly before Crumbley was to be arraigned.

Authorities have not revealed a possible motive for the violence.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

OXFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A 15-year-old boy was charged Wednesday with murder, terrorism and other crimes for a shooting that killed four fellow students and injured others at a Michigan high school.

Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald did not reveal a possible motive for Tuesday’s violence at Oxford High School and declined to comment when pressed about whether she believed the victims were specifically targeted. But she said the shooting was premeditated, based in part on a “mountain of digital evidence” collected by police.

Sheriff Mike Bouchard later told reporters that the boy’s parents had been summoned to the school before the violence. Bouchard wouldn’t discuss details of the behavior school officials were concerned about. The teen, Ethan Crumbley, who is now charged as an adult with murder, attempted murder and terrorism causing death, was in the meeting with his parents, Bouchard said.

“There is nothing that he could have faced that would warrant senseless, absolutely brutal violence on other kids,” he said.

Ethan Crumbley is accused of firing a semi-automatic handgun in a school hallway, roughly 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Detroit. At least seven other people were injured. It wasn’t immediately known if Crumbley had an attorney who could comment.

“This was not just an impulsive act,” McDonald said.

The shooting should be a wake-up call for new gun laws in a country that has become “desensitized to school shootings,” McDonald told reporters.

“We have to do better,” McDonald said without offering specific changes. “How many times does this have to happen? How many times?”

The charges were announced a few hours after investigators reported that a fourth student had died.

“What about all the children who ran, screaming, hiding under desks? … Those are victims, too, and so are their families and so is the community. The charge of terrorism reflects that,” the prosecutor said.

Deputies rushed to the school around lunchtime Tuesday and arrested Crumbley in a hallway within minutes of the shooting. His father bought the 9 mm Sig Sauer gun last week, according to the Oakland County sheriff.

McDonald strongly suggested that more charges will be filed.

“We are considering charges against both parents and we will be making a decision swiftly,” she said.

“Owning a gun means securing it properly and locking it and keeping the ammunition separate,” she said.

The four students who were killed were identified as 16-year-old Tate Myre, 14-year-old Hana St. Juliana, 17-year-old Madisyn Baldwin and 17-year-old Justin Shilling.

After the attack, authorities learned of social media posts about threats of a shooting at the roughly 1,700-student school. The sheriff stressed how crucial it is for such tips to be sent to authorities, while also cautioning against spreading social media rumors before a full investigation.

Undersheriff Mike McCabe downplayed the significance of a situation in early November when a deer’s head was thrown off the school roof, which he said was “absolutely unrelated” to the shooting. The incident prompted school administrators to post two letters to parents on the school’s website, saying they were responding to rumors of a threat against the school but had found none.

Isabel Flores, a 15-year-old ninth grader, told Detroit television station WJBK that she and other students heard gunshots and saw another student bleeding from the face. They then ran from the area through the rear of the school, she said.

A concerned parent, Robin Redding, said her son, 12th-grader Treshan Bryant, stayed home Tuesday after hearing threats of a possible shooting.

“This couldn’t be just random,” she said.

Bryant said he had heard vague threats “for a long time now” about plans for a shooting.

At a vigil Tuesday night at LakePoint Community Church, Leeann Dersa choked back tears as she hugged friends and neighbors. Dersa has lived nearly all of her 73 years in Oxford. Her grandchildren attended the high school.

“Scared us all something terrible. It’s awful,” Dersa said of the shooting.

Pastor Jesse Holt said news of the shooting flooded in to him and his wife, including texts from some of the 20 to 25 students who are among the 400-member congregation.

“Some were very scared, hiding under their desks and texting us, ‘We’re safe, we’re OK. We heard gunshots, but we’re OK.’ They were trying to calm us, at least that’s how it felt,” he said.

___

Associated Press journalists Ryan Kryska, Mike Householder and David Aguilar in Oxford Township, Michigan; Kathleen Foody in Chicago; and Josh Boak in Rosemount, Minnesota, contributed to this report. AP researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York also contributed.

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Jets head coach Robert Saleh calls Brian Kelly ‘a phenomenal man’ after snow shoveling story resurfaces

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Jets head coach Robert Saleh calls Brian Kelly ‘a phenomenal man’ after snow shoveling story resurfaces

Robert Saleh tried to dig out of a snow-shoveling hole he dug himself with his old boss.

The Jets head coach used part of his Wednesday press conference to say that his unflattering story-telling about working for Brian Kelly at the beginning of his career was taken out of context.

“I feel terrible,” Saleh said.

ESPN’s Rob Demovsky wrote a feature on Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur in 2019, brother of Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, on how LaFleur rose up from the ranks from lowly college assistant to the NFL.

The article included an anecdote from Saleh — Matt LaFleur and the Jets boss were graduate assistants at Central Michigan under Kelly from 2004-2005 — about the two attending a party at Kelly’s home during the winter break. But they weren’t on the guest list, they were there to work.

“We shoveled the snow and parked all the cars,” Saleh said in the ESPN article. “Then, at the end of the night, we had to go get the cars again.”

That night caused some self-reflection for the two and Saleh told Matt later that night, “that when we’re in that position, we’re never going to treat people the way we got treated,” according to the story.

When former Notre Dame head coach Kelly became LSU’s head coach on Monday, the quote popped back up and Kelly’s character took some heat.

Saleh believes the quote was taken out of context and said the story was meant to be funny and explain the trials that came with being a graduate assistant.

“Part of that article was to tell a funny story of Matt and I as GAs. Part of being a GA … every single coach in this profession, there’s a rite of passage whether you’re a GA or a QC [Quality Control]. And that was a funny story.”

There is a contradiction from Saleh because in the article he mentioned he wouldn’t treat anybody that way. So how was that taken out of context?

Saleh didn’t answer, other than to talk about what a great guy Kelly is.

“Not an indictment on how Brian treated us. Brian is a phenomenal man. He really is and that was just one of those deals. That was supposed to be a funny story that people took in a negative light,” Saleh said. “Shame on me. I should have worded that better but there’s a reason why Matt went back and worked for him. There’s a reason why I tried to go back and work for him. He’s a really good manager and treats people the right way.”

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Avalanche was 7-1 in Nathan MacKinnon’s absence. “Excited to try and help keep this thing rolling,” he said pregame from Toronto.

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Avalanche was 7-1 in Nathan MacKinnon’s absence. “Excited to try and help keep this thing rolling,” he said pregame from Toronto.

TORONTO — After the morning skate at Scotiabank Arena on Wednesday, Avalanche coach Jared Bednar confirmed top-line center Nathan MacKinnon will return to the lineup against the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight to begin a five-game trip.

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