Man charged with bringing razor blade on plane, threatening seatmate

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A Utah man has been arrested after bringing a razor blade on a plane and allegedly threatening the woman next to him with it as he held the blade to her throat mid-flight, federal authorities said.

Merrill Darrell Fackrell, 41, of Syracuse, Utah, was charged with assault and carrying a weapon on a plane after Monday’s flight from New York City to Salt Lake City, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Utah said.

A few days before Thanksgiving, during one of the country’s busiest periods of air travel, Fackrell boarded the JetBlue flight and sat down in seat 6A with a 2- to 5-cm knife concealed on him, authorities said in a statement. affidavit filed Tuesday in federal court in Utah.

Authorities said it was not clear why the weapon, which federal prosecutors said was a wooden-handled straight razor, was missed during the security check.

Straight razors are not allowed in airline carry-on luggage, according to the Transportation Security Administration, and are only allowed to fly in checked bags. The TSA did not immediately respond to an email from The Washington Post Friday morning.

TSA errors allowed a disruptive passenger to put box cutters on the run

It was not the first flight this month to be disrupted by a passenger wielding a weapon. A Frontier Airlines flight on Nov. 11 landed early after a passenger brought a box cutter aboard the plane, something that TSA said happened later because officers made mistakes during the security check.

And as the airline industry recovers from the fallout from the peak of the pandemic — this year’s Thanksgiving travel numbers were higher than last year and likely to match those of 2019 — the incident added to the number of reportedly unruly or threatening passengers, a phenomenon that got worse during the pandemic.

Fackrell was jailed in Utah after a judge denied his bail request Wednesday, court documents show. A Fackrell lawyer did not immediately respond to a phone call and email from The Post on Friday morning.

During the flight, Fackrell sat in the window seat and struck up a conversation with the woman sitting next to him, while her husband, according to the affidavit, wore headphones in an aisle seat.

As they chatted in a “long and varied” conversation, Fackrell was said to have consumed several alcoholic beverages. When the woman, who was not identified by federal authorities, put on headphones and started a movie, Fackrell would continue to talk to herself.

There is an unruly passenger on your flight. Should you confront them?

The woman ignored him. Fackrell then allegedly held his hand in front of her screen and told her to pause the film.

She looked up and realized he was holding a knife — what appeared to be a knife to her — next to her throat, “inches” from her skin, authorities said.

Fackrell stood up and shouted, “She’ll be fine” and “No one need worry,” the affidavit said, telling her husband to leave.

TSA found a gun in a raw chicken

The woman’s husband ran for help. She lunged for the aisle as Fackrell reportedly tried to stop her. She fought him off and ran to the front of the plane, according to the affidavit.

A man sitting across the aisle confronted Fackrell, according to the affidavit, and persuaded him to put the razor on the plane seat. The man took the knife, which he also thought was a knife, and handed it to the flight crew.

The man sat next to Fackrell for the rest of the flight. The plane’s crew members notified authorities and law enforcement met the flight in Salt Lake City, JetBlue spokesman Derek Dombrowski said in an email.

“The safety of our customers and crew members is JetBlue’s number one priority and we will support law enforcement in their investigation,” Dombrowski said.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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