A Utah man has been arrested and charged after allegedly placing a razor blade to a woman’s neck on a flight.
Merrill Darrell Fackrell, 41, was on a JetBlue flight from New York to Salt Lake City on November 21. 21 when he allegedly assaulted the passenger next to him, according to the Department of Justice.
He was sitting in a window seat in a row with a married woman and man and conversing with the woman, according to a criminal complaint filed by the Justice Department.
The woman started watching a movie on headphones and said she could hear Fackrell talking to himself, but he wasn’t paying attention. Fackrell then put her hand in front of the screen and told her to pause the movie.
The woman alleges that she removed the headphones and realized that Fackrell had what appeared to be a knife held inches from his neck, according to the Justice Department.
The object was later identified as a straight razor with a one to two inch blade.
Fackrell reportedly stood up and yelled, “She’s going to be fine” and “no one need worry.” She allegedly told her husband to “get out of there.”
The woman’s husband got up to alert a flight attendant. The woman lunged into the hallway and Fackrell tried to grab her shoulder and stop her.
Another passenger sitting across the aisle saw Fackrell holding an object, confronted him, and got him to put him on the seat. He passed the object, which turned out to be a pocket knife, to the flight crew for safekeeping, according to the complaint. He then sat next to Fackrell for the entire flight.
The alleged incident occurred near the end of the flight, a JetBlue spokesperson said in a statement to CBS News.
“Crew members responded by working to de-escalate the situation and notified law enforcement that they encountered the flight in Salt Lake City,” the spokesperson said. “The safety of our customers and crew members is JetBlue’s first priority, and we will support law enforcement during their investigation.”
A fellow passenger on the plane recorded video of Fackrell being escorted by police after landing.
The United States Attorney’s Office filed the complaint on November 2. 22 charging Fackrell with carrying a weapon on an airplane and assault with a dangerous weapon in United States special aircraft jurisdiction, according to the Justice Department.
The case is being investigated by the Salt Lake City Police Department and an officer with the FBI Task Force.
A spokesperson for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said the administration is “very concerned about the number of unruly passengers behaving in a disruptive manner during the flight.”
TSA is working with police on the case.
“We take our responsibility to secure the skies for the traveling public very seriously and are introducing new X-ray technology to more airports to improve our ability to better detect items like the one used in this incident,” the spokesperson said. “We commend the actions of the flight attendants and other passengers on this flight.”
In 2021, there were 5,981 reports of unruly passengers, and the FAA proposed $5 million in fines against unruly passengers last year. according to the administration.
Last year, 1,099 investigations were initiated, a big raise since 2020, when there were 183 investigations into unruly passenger incidents.
This year, there have been 2,178 reports of unruly passengers, as of November 1. 1.
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