Utah man charged with threatening passenger on flight

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (AP) — A Utah man was arrested and charged in federal court with carrying a straight-edge razor blade on a JetBlue flight and using it to threaten another passenger, according to the federal prosecutors.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Salt Lake City filed a complaint Tuesday against Merrill Darrell Fackrell, charging him with carrying a weapon on an aircraft and assault with a dangerous weapon on an aircraft, prosecutors said Wednesday in a press release.

Prosecutors say Fackrell boarded a JetBlue flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport on Monday that was headed for Salt Lake City. He was in a window seat next to a married couple, the complaint said.

During the flight, Fackrell placed his hand over the woman’s screen and told her to pause her movie, the complaint said. She took off her headphones and saw that Fackrell was holding what appeared to be a knife inches from her throat, the complaint said.

The woman’s husband sought help from a flight attendant as the woman lunged for the aisle. Fackrell tried to stop her by grabbing her shoulder. He was detained. The object he was holding was later identified as a wood-handled straight-edge razor with 1-to-2-inch (25-to-50 mm) blade, the complaint said.

A federal judge issued an order Wednesday for his continued detention after prosecutors said he was a danger to himself and the public. In their motion, they said he has a history of mental illness and no permanent residence.

Fackrell had opposed detention, arguing that he has no criminal history. His federal public defender, L. Clark Donaldson, did not immediately respond to an email Saturday seeking comment on his detention and the charges.