Man is accused of holding a razor blade to the neck of a woman on a JetBlue flight, officials say

A Utah man has been arrested and charged after allegedly holding a razor blade to the neck of a woman 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 the Justice Department.

According to a criminal complaint filed by the DOJ, he sat in a row in a window seat with a married woman and a married man and conversed with the woman.

The woman began watching a movie through headphones and said she could hear Fackrell continuing to talk to himself, but she didn’t pay attention. Fackrell then put his hand in front of the screen and told her to pause the film.

The woman claims that she took off her headphones and found Fackrell had a knife just inches from her neck, according to the DOJ.

The object was later identified as a razor with a one- to two-inch blade.

Fackrell reportedly got up and yelled, “She’ll be fine” and “nobody needs to worry.” He reportedly told the husband to “get that shit out of there.”

The woman’s husband got up to alert a flight attendant. The woman rushed toward the aisle and Fackrell tried to grab her shoulder and stop her.

Another passenger sitting across the aisle saw Fackrell holding an object, confronted him and was able to get him to place the object he was holding on the seat. According to the complaint, he handed the item – which turned out to be a razor – to the flight crew for safekeeping. He then sat next to Fackrell for the duration of the flight.

The alleged incident occurred near the end of the flight, a JetBlue spokesman said in a statement to CBS News.

“Crew members responded by working to de-escalate the situation and notifying law enforcement, who met the flight in Salt Lake City,” the spokesman said. “The safety of our customers and crew is JetBlue’s top priority and we will assist law enforcement in their investigations.”

A fellow passenger on the plane recorded video of Fackrell being escorted by police after landing.

U.S. Attorneys filed the complaint Nov. 22, charging Fackrell with carrying a weapon on an airplane and assaulting it with a dangerous weapon in the United States’ special aviation jurisdiction, according to the Justice Department.

The case is being investigated by the Salt Lake City Police Department and an FBI task force officer.

A spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said the administration was “extremely concerned about the number of unruly passengers engaging in disruptive behavior during the flight.”

The 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 enhance our ability to better detect objects like the one enhanced in this incident,” the spokesman said. “We commend the actions of flight attendants and other passengers on this flight.”

In 2021, there were 5,981 reports of unruly passengers, and the FAA proposed $5 million in fines against unruly passengers last year, according to the administration.

Last year, 1,099 investigations were opened, a big increase from 2020 when there were 183 investigations into unruly incidents involving passengers.

This year, as of November 1, there have been 2,178 reports of unruly passengers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *