Police Tase man at Tri-Cities Airport

By Pratik Joshi, Herald staff writer November 4, 2008 

A former Tri-Cities Fever football player was arrested Monday morning after he busted through a window in the boarding area at the Tri-Cities Airport.

Michael Rayfield Hodges, 25, of California, managed to get onto the tarmac just as Horizon Air flight 2103 was getting ready to leave for Seattle.

The 6-foot, 270-pound lineman played parts of four seasons for the Fever, including eight games this year.

Hodges' intentions were not clear, said Dwayne Baird, public affairs manager for the Transportation Security Administration.

Baird said Hodges showed up near the security screening area in the airport about 9 a.m. After he found the screening area was closed, he used the exit door to get inside a secured boarding area.

Hodges reportedly told security officers that he didn't have a ticket and did not know anyone on that flight. He didn't have a reason to be at the airport, Baird said.

When a Franklin County Sheriff's deputy asked him to leave, Hodges became angry, yelled obscenities, then broke through a window to get onto the tarmac where the loaded plane was preparing to leave.

It's not clear if he was trying to board the plane.

A sheriff's deputy shot Hodges with a Taser and then he was arrested. He was taken to Lourdes Medical Center for treatment before being booked into the Franklin County jail at 12:30 p.m. He is being held on suspicion of felony assault on a police officer.

Despite the breach, there was no danger to anyone at any time on the secure side of the airport, said Baird, who's based in Salt Lake City. The TSA may bring civil charges, Baird said.

Hodges, who was a standout at Idaho State University, missed time last season with the Fever because of a knee injury.

"He was a guy that came across as real quiet, a real reserved guy," said former Fever coach Dan Whitsett, who coached Hodges for two seasons. "He was a guy who always wore his emotions on his sleeve and always seemed to have a big heart."

Hodges' behavior is difficult to explain, Baird said, noting Hodges told the detectives that he doesn't drink or use drugs.

Tri-Cities Airport Director Jim Morasch said the security breach was an unusual occurrence. "I've never seen anything like that before," he said.

But he was satisfied with the way security agencies responded to the situation. "Everything worked the way it was supposed to," Morasch said.

The incident delayed the Horizon flight by about a half-hour, said Dan Russo, Horizon's vice president of marketing and communications.

Russo didn't confirm or deny if Hodges was a passenger on the flight, citing company policies.

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