Aviation

American Airlines pilot killed in fatal shooting outside strip club

Police say an autopsy report will help determine who fatally shot American Airlines pilot Matthew Stapula outside a strip club in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The shootout occurred on early Sunday (local time) between a customer and four bouncers at District nightclub, Police Lieutenant Angel Martinez told The Associated Press (AP), and led to Stapula’s death.

A Charlotte-based American Airlines pilot, Stapula, 48, was allegedly on a layover when the incident occurred, according to a statement to WBTV from his father, Eric Stapula.

Police identified the customer who initiated the shooting as Ruben Aleman Hernandez, 36, whom Martinez said left the club after a discussion over his bill, and returned with a gun and started shooting.

Martinez said bouncers returned fire and killed Aleman, which authorities have determined was a “justified homicide”. All four bouncers were reportedly licensed to carry weapons, while Martinez said one of them was shot in the knee during the incident.

No one has yet been charged in the death of Stapula, who had been standing outside the club smoking when he was shot, according to a statement from Martinez.

Police are currently awaiting an autopsy to determine what kind of bullet killed him.

Eric Stapula told WBTV he plans to be at the airport when his son’s body is brought back to Charlotte. Now, he has several unanswered questions.

“I would really like to know the whole and true story, but right now it’s just a tragedy that’s left everybody here numb,” Stapula told the outlet.

“He knows that we love him. He knows that he was my best friend, and he knows that God loves him.”

American Airlines provided the following statement to Travel Weekly regarding the fatal shooting:

“On Sunday, we lost a Charlotte-based member of the American Airlines family in a tragic incident which occurred in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Our thoughts and prayers are with our colleague’s family, friends and loved ones.

“We have mobilised teams to provide care to his family, as well as fellow team members during this difficult time.

Local law enforcement is investigating this incident, which occurred during the early morning hours of [February] 2. We are providing any investigative assistance possible.”

Featured image: iStock.com/CHUYN

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