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Murder suspect tried to steal plane

A pilot suspected of killing his ex-girlfriend stole an empty passenger jet from a Utah airport, crashed it near a terminal, then killed himself.

Brian Hedglin, 40, who worked for SkyWest Airlines, used a rug to scale the razor wire-topped security fence at the St George Municipal Airport overnight on Tuesday and drove off with the SkyWest jet, St George city spokesman Marc Mortenson said.

Hedglin clipped a wing on the terminal building and crashed into vehicles in a car park. The plane never left the ground.

A police officer patrolling at around 12.50am found a motorcycle with the engine running just outside the perimeter fence. As he searched the grounds for the owner, the officer came upon the idling plane and called SkyWest, Mr Mortenson said.

The airline sent an employee to turn off the engine and inside, Hedglin was found with a gunshot wound to his head.

It was not clear how Hedglin was able to access the plane. Mr Mortenson said the airport, about 120 miles north east of Las Vegas, met all Federal Aviation Administration and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requirements.

He said the entire perimeter was not observed at all times, "and I would dare say it isn't at any airport in the country".

Jeff Price, an aviation security expert and aviation professor at the Metropolitan State University of Denver, said the TSA did not require any of America's airports to maintain a full-time surveillance presence of their perimeter fences.

Prof Price, a former assistant security director at Denver International Airport, said Tuesday's breach in Utah highlighted a need to revisit such requirements. He said Hedglin never should have been able to access the plane even after he entered airport grounds.

"It should have been locked and secured if it wasn't in use," Prof Price said. "Maybe we need to implement some more levels of perimeter security because any type of security incident like this is a lesson to both the good guys and the bad guys. They read the papers just as much as we do."

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