According to statements made by federal prosecutors this week, a guy from Utah was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon and carrying a weapon on an airline after he allegedly put a razor against the neck of the person seated next to him while he was flying.
After a significant drop in aircraft travel brought on by the coronavirus epidemic, airline traffic has just started to pick back up, and this incident was the most recent example of the disruptive conduct that law enforcement authorities claim has grown more regular in the sky.
Prosecutors say that Merrill Darrell Fackrell, 41, of Syracuse, Utah, was on a JetBlue flight from Kennedy International Airport in New York to Salt Lake City on Monday when he told the woman sitting next to him to pause her movie by placing his hand in front of her video screen and telling her to do so. The flight originated in New York and was headed to Salt Lake City.
According to a statement that was released on Wednesday by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah, the woman took off her headphones and realised that Mr. Fackrell was holding what appeared to be a knife — it was later identified as a wood-handled razor with a blade that was between one and two inches long — inches from her throat.
According to a lawsuit that was filed on Tuesday in the United States District Court in Utah, Mr. Fackrell, who had been seated in the window seat, suddenly jumped up and began shouting, “She’s going to be OK” and “No one has to worry.” According to the records that were filed against him, he also instructed the woman’s husband, who was seated in the aisle seat, to “get out of there,” punctuating the demand with an obscenity.
According to the complaint, as the lady’s husband was trying to locate a flight attendant at the front of the plane, the woman “lunged” towards the aisle in an attempt to flee the situation. Meanwhile, Mr. Fackrell attempted to stop her by gripping her shoulder, but he was unable to do so.
According to the complaint, the passenger then went and got the razor before sitting next to Mr. Fackrell for the remainder of the trip.
According to the allegations made in the lawsuit, Mr. Fackrell had “many” alcoholic beverages to drink before the incident that occurred after he and the lady had “a lengthy and diverse chat.”
On Thursday, an attorney named L. Clark Donaldson who is identified as representing Mr. Fackrell did not immediately reply messages left by phone and email.
The allegations brought against Mr. Fackrell were brought about at a time when airline personnel were still dealing with an extraordinarily high number of delays and cancellations since the beginning of the epidemic. This year, there have been 146 investigations opened because of disruptive behaviour aboard aeroplanes. According to statistics provided by the Federal Aviation Administration, there have been a total of 767 investigations of this kind in 2022 as of November 1st.
The incident occurred during a flight on which the man was travelling from Mexico to Los Angeles. According to the prosecution, in May a woman who was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison for repeatedly punching a Southwest Airlines flight attendant in December of last year, causing the flight attendant’s face to bleed and chipping three of her teeth, was sentenced.
On Thursday, the means by which Mr. Fackrell had been able to get the razor onboard the flight were not immediately evident to anybody. The Transportation Security Administration, which is responsible for the safety and screening of passengers at airports in the United States, said in a statement that it was collaborating on the investigation of Mr. Fackrell’s case with the federal prosecutors, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Salt Lake City police.
According to the statement, the organisation is “introducing new X-ray equipment at additional airports in order to increase our potential to better identify goods such as the one that was utilised in this event.” We would like to thank the flight attendants and other passengers on this aircraft for their responsible behaviour.