As per the Transportation Security Administration and the airline, a spontaneous landing was executed on Friday evening subsequent to the apprehension of a passenger on a Frontier Airlines flight. This passenger purportedly embarked on the aircraft carrying two utility knives and was observed displaying unpredictable behavior.
As per witnesses, the man was restrained with the assistance of crew members, which included individuals who had served in the military and a former police officer, along with multiple passengers aboard the aircraft.
Frontier stated that the flight was redirected to Atlanta “following the observation of a passenger aboard the plane possessing a utility knife.” The flight was originally heading to Tampa from the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.
ABC News interviewed Larry Cumberbatch, who was a passenger on Frontier Airlines Flight 1761 and is a former member of the Navy.
Cumberbatch stated that the crew of the plane, consisting of two additional individuals – another veteran and a former law enforcement member, ensured the safety of both the armed passenger and the remaining passengers.
About 45 minutes into the flight, the flight attendants approached Cumberbatch and asked for help with a passenger in the rear of the aircraft.
At least two passengers stated they witnessed some form of sharp object from an individual who multiple individuals observed was behaving unpredictably.
Cumberbatch offered to exchange seats with the lady initially seated beside the armed traveler.
Cumberbatch stated, “He actually displayed it to her, the woman noted that the man adjacent to her possessed some sort of blade or weapon. The circumstance was such that in order for her safety, they inquired if someone would be willing to exchange seats or return to sit with him. They expressed concern for a young woman.”
The man seated by the window in the airplane stood up and walked back to the rear of the plane, finding the passenger in the middle seat and the passenger in the aisle seat.
Cumberbatch was standing in the aisle before eventually making his way to the bathroom. The knife was not visible, but there was someone trailing him, as though the nervous passenger appeared to be paranoid.
Cumberbatch stated, “I didn’t want anyone with a knife behind me because I just saw someone pointing it at me. So, I thought he might be an air marshal or somebody. I don’t know if he made me think that or if I just thought it myself, but there I stood.” The young lady behind me, that’s my seat. “Well,” he said. “This is my seat, you know.” “I said I’m going to sit here right now,” I replied, as I came and leaned back, relaxing. He just had his feet up in the aisle seat.
After leaving the restroom, the passenger with a weapon confronted Cumberbatch in the aisle, which he described as a confrontation.
Cumberbatch clarified, “Therefore, we decided to approach the situation in a way that would prevent any escalation, allowing me to be present without directly staring at him, as that would provoke and irritate him. My intention was simply to act casual, merely trying to determine my identity, while also assessing his attire to understand his character. I may have taken a few steps back, but not excessively due to the limited space. He was observing me, nervously fiddling near the bathroom entrance.”
The law enforcement was not immediately visible, but there was law enforcement nearby. Two veterans flanked him while the former law enforcement member walked down the aisle to the armed passenger. The armed passenger and former law enforcement member left the plane, followed by the crew and other passengers. Eventually, the armed passenger took a seat in the back of the plane for landing.
“You could see the energy ramping up where uncertainty, the uncertainty of what’s going to happen with this young man,” Cumberbatch said.
The former law enforcement member tackled him to arrest him, after the armed passenger reportedly made some kind of erratic move, triggering the law enforcement response.
Cumberbatch drew upon his military training and his experiences of growing up and riding the subway in 90s New York to prepare for the situation, where he observed box cutters being used as a preferred weapon.
He stated, “However, I was aware that I possessed the ability to defuse tense situations due to various experiences in my life. Nevertheless, to be honest, his possession of a weapon did not really bother or unsettle me. I am unsure of the exact reason, but I simply had confidence in my ability to handle the situation. And even if I had failed to do so… Well, I was convinced that I could have. I had no doubts about that.” “Undergoing boot camp and serving in the Navy completely transformed my outlook on how to assist others and adopting a selfless mindset.”
Cumberbatch mentioned that he wasn’t taken aback by the fact that the other two experienced individuals also stood up.
He stated, “That won’t occur again.” And upon hearing that, it was the initial statement I uttered, “And I believe that was foremost in my thoughts when I returned, as I had just recently enlisted in the Navy prior to the occurrence of 911,” he expressed. “I think it followed closely after comprehending our past events, a historical connection with 911, and similar incidents.”
Cumberbatch observed that there were kids on the aircraft, specifically located at the rear where the passenger carrying a weapon was situated.
Cumberbatch stated that the flight crew behaved responsibly and competently during the entire incident.
Cumberbatch informed ABC about the weapon he truly possesses, they were attempting to assess what he is up to and trying to see what is happening with him. They were trying to perceive his mental state and understand what is going on with him. They were extremely courageous. They were engaged in a conversation with him, I mean.
De La Cruz stated, “The passenger was taken into custody for questioning by law enforcement in Atlanta, and the aircraft safely landed in Atlanta.”
The individual under arrest has not been recognized, and there is no information accessible regarding the events preceding the finding of the utility knife.
According to the airline, there were no damages to passengers or crew members.
A new flight has been scheduled for Saturday morning to take the passengers from Atlanta to their final destination of Tampa. All passengers have been provided with overnight hotel accommodations in Atlanta and have been deplaned.
ABC received the following statement from Frontier Airlines.
A new flight has been scheduled for Saturday morning to transport passengers from Atlanta to their final destination of Tampa. All passengers have been deplaned and the aircraft is safely landed in Atlanta. The passenger in question was taken into custody by law enforcement in Atlanta after being observed in possession of a box cutter on board the aircraft. No injuries have been reported to the crew or passengers. Earlier on Friday evening, Flight 1761, operated by Frontier Airlines, departed from Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport and was diverted to Tampa en route to Atlanta. Hotel accommodations are being provided for passengers in Atlanta overnight.