Slain Man's Son Angry With JIA Security

Published On: Oct 14 2011 02:32:27 PM EDT
Updated On: Nov 05 2010 05:36:47 AM EDT
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Chuck Soukup, whose 83-year-old father Charles Soukup who was found dead near Jacksonville International Airport last week, is angry with airport security, or the lack thereof, regarding his father's killing.

"As far as I am concerned, I will tell the world, don't fly into Jacksonville. You fly into Jacksonville you may not get out of the airport alive," Soukup said.

Five people were arrested in connection with the killing. Three of them -- 34-year-old Shanda Merritt, her son, 17-year-old Corey Harrington, and 17-year-old Raymond Austin -- are charged with murder and kidnapping.

Two others, 18-year-old Kandra Harrington, who's Merritt's daughter, and 51-year-old Rose Daniels, are charged with tampering with evidence.

Jacksonville police said Soukup, who was from Gainesville, was killed after he rented a car at the airport. His body was found in nearby woods days later. Chuck Soukup said he blames the lack of security at the airport for his father's death.

"If you can get killed in broad daylight at 11:00 (a.m.), where is it safe?" he said. "You tell me where it's safe."

Sources told Channel 4 that airport officials had been put on notice about security problems at the airport long before Soukup's death.

The former head of security of airport police left his job last year after he raised red flags about security. He wanted to hire more officers, but the board nixed that recommendation because of budget concerns.

One area of safety concern is the parking garage. It's dark, and many people have complained that there are very few officers on patrol.

Wayne Clark, the head of aviation security at JIA, said Friday that security in the parking garage is not a problem.

"The garage is not dangerous at all," Clark said.

There are many other concerns about security besides the parking lot. Last year, the airport conducted a survey on just how secure the airport is and what changes need to be made. A copy of that report has not yet been released, but airport officials said part of it would be made available next week.

Channel 4 was told the report recommends more officers, something the former chief tried to do. The airport is currently trying to hire nine more officers, though Clark said he does not see crime as a problem at the airport. He said there has been "no significant crime" at the airport in the last two weeks.

"There have been things like theft, but no significant crime," Clark said.

The Soukup family said they're not buying that. They said they believe their father was the target of carjackers.

"Unfortunately, my father was in one of those cars they jacked, and they probably killed him so he would not report that car stolen," Soukup said.

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