A Utah man has been arrested and charged with allegedly holding a razor blade to a woman’s neck during a flight.
According to the Justice Department, Merrill Darrell Fackrell, 41, was on a JetBlue flight from New York to Salt Lake City on Nov. 21 when he allegedly assaulted the passenger sitting next to him.
He was sitting on a window seat with a married woman and man and allegedly put his hand in front of the woman’s screen asking her to stop her film. According to the DOJ, the woman alleges she took off her headphones and realized Fackrell was holding a knife about an inch from her neck.
The object was later identified as a straight edge razor with a one to two inch blade.
The woman’s husband got up to inform a flight attendant. The woman lunged towards the corridor and Fackrell tried to stop her by holding her shoulder.
The alleged incident occurred near the end of the flight, a JetBlue spokesperson said in a statement to CBS News.
“The crew members worked to de-escalate the situation and notified law enforcement on the flight to 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 out by police after landing. The witness claims that a good Samaritan stepped in to put the weapon away and calm down Fackrell.
According to the Department of Justice, the US Attorney’s Office filed a complaint on November 22, charging Fackrell with carrying a weapon on an aircraft and assault with a dangerous weapon in the United States’ exclusive aircraft jurisdiction.
The matter is being investigated by an officer from the Salt Lake City Police Department and an FBI task force.
A spokesperson for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said that the administration is “very concerned about the number of unruly passengers who engage in disruptive behavior during flight.”
TSA is working with law enforcement on the matter.
The spokesperson said: “We take our responsibility to keep the skies safe for the traveling public very seriously and are introducing new systems at more airports to improve our ability to better detect the items used in this incident. Introducing X-ray technology.” “We appreciate the actions of the flight attendants and other passengers on this flight.”
In 2021, there were 5,981 unruly passenger reports, and according to the administration, the FAA last year proposed $5 million in fines against unruly passengers.
Last year, 1,099 investigations were launched, a huge increase compared to 2020, when there were 183 investigations into unruly passenger incidents.
This year, as of November 1, 2,178 unruly passengers have been reported.