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(SALT LAKE CITY) — A Utah man is facing charges after allegedly bringing a straight edge razor blade on a flight and holding it near a passenger’s throat.
The incident comes just weeks after a man brought two box cutters through security and onto a Frontier Airlines flight en route to Tampa.
Merrill Darrell Fackrell, 41, allegedly boarded a JetBlue flight Monday at JFK Airport in New York en route to Salt Lake City. During the flight, Fackrell was in the window seat next to a woman, when he allegedly placed his hand in front of her screen and told her to pause her movie, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Utah. The woman then realized Fackrell was holding what appeared to her as a knife, “inches from her skin at her throat/neck area,” the release said.
The woman’s husband then went to the front of the plane to get assistance from a flight attendant. The woman lunged for the aisle to escape and Fackrell reached and tried to stop her by grabbing her shoulder, according to the release.
The object was secured and later identified as a wood-handled straight edge razor with a one-to-two-inch blade.
In a statement to ABC News, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said it “take[s] our responsibility to secure the skies for the traveling public very seriously.” The agency said it’s introducing new X-ray technology at more airports to improve the capability to detect items such as the one used in this incident.
Fackrell was later charged with Carrying a Weapon on an Aircraft and Assault with a Dangerous Weapon in the Special Aircraft Jurisdiction of the United States.
“Crewmembers responded by working to de-escalate the situation and notified law enforcement who met the flight in Salt Lake City,” JetBlue said in a statement Friday. “The safety of our customers and crewmembers is JetBlue’s first priority, and we will support law enforcement during their investigation.”
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