A Utah man has been arrested and charged after allegedly holding 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 Nov. 21 when he allegedly assaulted the passenger next to him. According to Department of Justice
According to a criminal complaint filed with the DOJ, he sat in a window seat in a row with a married woman and man and engaged in conversation with the woman.
The woman started watching a movie using headphones and said she could hear Fackrell talking to herself, but she wasn’t paying attention. Fackrell then put his hand in front of the screen and told him to pause the movie.
The woman allegedly took off her headphones and realized what appeared to be a knife inches away from Fackrell’s neck, according to the DOJ.
The object was later identified as a straight edge razor with a one to two inch blade.
Fackrell reportedly stood up and yelled, “He’s going to be fine,” and “No one needs to worry.” She told the husband to “get the f*** out of there.”
The woman’s husband got up to alert a flight attendant. The woman ran into the corridor and Fackrell grabbed her shoulder and tried to stop her.
Another passenger sitting across the aisle saw Fackrell holding an object, confronted him and managed to get him to place the object on the seat. According to the complaint, the object—which turned out to be a razor—was for safekeeping by the flight crew. He then sat next to Fackrell for the duration of the flight.
A JetBlue spokesperson told CBS News in a statement that the alleged incident happened late in the flight.
“Crew members responded by working to de-escalate the situation and notified law enforcement who met 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 a video of police evicting Fakrel after landing.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed the complaint Nov. 22 charging Fackrell with carrying a weapon on an aircraft and assault with a dangerous weapon in the United States’ special aviation jurisdiction, according to the Justice Department.
The case is being investigated by officers from the Salt Lake City Police Department and the FBI Task Force.
A spokesperson for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said the administration is “very concerned about the number of unruly passengers who engage in disruptive behavior while flying.”
TSA is working with law enforcement on the case.
“We take our responsibility to keep the skies safe for the traveling public very seriously and are rolling out new X-ray technology at more airports to improve our ability to better identify items like those used in this incident,” the spokesperson said. “We appreciate 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 last year proposed a $5 million fine against unruly passengers. According to Administration.
Last year, 1,099 investigations were initiated, A big increase Since 2020, when 183 unruly passenger incidents were investigated.
This year, there have been 2,178 reports of rude passengers till November 1.