Remembering the Narrowly Averted Tragedy at San Antonio International Airport: An Account of Bravery and Chaos


On April 15, 2021, San Antonio International Airport was thrust into a terrifying ordeal when a gunman, 46-year-old Joe Gomez, unleashed gunfire after driving against traffic toward Terminal B. This incident nearly escalated into a mass shooting, but the swift action of San Antonio Park Police officer John Maines averted a potential tragedy.

As Gomez’s car approached Terminal B, Officer Maines, showing remarkable courage, confronted the assailant. The situation quickly escalated when Gomez began shooting indiscriminately, sending panicked travelers and airport staff scrambling for cover. Witnesses recounted the harrowing moments, recalling the chaos and their desperate attempts to find safety amidst the turmoil.

The rapid response of law enforcement prevented further casualties, with Officer Maines engaging Gomez in gunfire, ultimately incapacitating him. In a tragic turn of events, Gomez turned the weapon on himself, ending his life. Miraculously, apart from a few injuries, including one person struck by shrapnel and another with a sprained ankle, no fatalities occurred during the tumultuous incident.

Chief William McManus commended Officer Maines for his quick thinking and bravery, emphasizing that his intervention prevented what could have been a devastating active shooter situation. The released security footage captured the intensity of the event, although specific moments, including Gomez’s self-inflicted fatal shot, were respectfully blurred.

This troubling incident unveiled Gomez’s troubled past, marked by previous encounters with law enforcement and a criminal record encompassing charges ranging from drug possession to DUI. Despite efforts to intervene and various legal entanglements, Gomez was armed that day with a .45-caliber handgun and a box full of ammunition, posing a grave threat to those at the airport.

Today, as we reflect on this incident, we remember the commendable actions of Officer Maines, whose swift response prevented further tragedy. The incident serves as a poignant reminder of the potential consequences of gun violence and the importance of law enforcement’s timely and decisive actions in averting disaster.

As a community, we honor the resilience shown by those affected and extend our thoughts to all who experienced this distressing event. Let us continue to work towards creating safer environments and supporting initiatives aimed at preventing such incidents in the future.

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