Man holds blade to woman's throat so she'd pause in-flight movie, Utah officials say

  • In US
  • 2022-11-25 17:25:43Z
  • By Sacramento Bee

A man has been charged in a federal criminal complaint after assaulting a fellow passenger with a razor blade onboard a flight from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport to Utah, the District Attorney's Office said.

On Nov. 21, Merrill Darrell Fackrell of Syracuse, Utah, was seated next to a married couple onboard a Jetblue flight to the Salt Lake City International Airport when the chaos ensued, according to a news release by the Utah District Attorney's Office.

McClatchy News reached out to Fackrell's lawyer and officials for the complaint on Nov. 25 and is awaiting a response.

The man "had several alcoholic beverages" before getting up to use the bathroom, according to KUTV.

When he returned, the 41-year-old put his hand over the screen of the woman he was sitting next to and "told her to pause her movie," according to the news release.

After taking her headphones out, the woman realized Fackrell "clutched with what appeared to her as a knife" and held it "at her throat/neck area," officials said.

Fackrell stood up and told the other passengers on the plane that the woman was going to be OK and that no one needed to worry, according to the complaint obtained by KUTV. He then demanded the woman's husband get out of his seat.

The husband, who didn't know Fackrell had a knife, sensed something was off and went to seek help from a flight attendant, according to KSL.

"He didn't knowingly leave me to handle a man with a weapon all by myself," the woman told KSL.

The woman tried to escape the seat and "lunged for the aisle," but Fackrell grabbed her shoulder in an attempt to stop her, according to KSL. The woman was able to break free and ran toward the front of the plane.

Another passenger was able to convince Fackrell to put the knife down on the seat next to him, according to the complaint obtained by The New York Times. The passenger grabbed the razor and held it for the rest of the flight.

"Crewmembers responded by working to de-escalate the situation and notified law enforcement who met the flight in Salt Lake City," a JetBlue spokesperson told McClatchy News in a statement. "The safety of our customers and crewmembers is JetBlue's first priority, and we will support law enforcement during their investigation."

The weapon was later identified as a "Facon wood-handled straight edge razor with a 1-to-2-inch blade," officials said.

Fackrell was charged with "carrying a weapon on an aircraft and assault with a dangerous weapon in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States," according to the news release.

Fackrell's first court appearance took place on Nov. 23, according to KUTV.

The case is being investigated by the Salt Lake City Police Department and an FBI Task Force Officer, officials said.

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