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SALT LAKE CITY — A Syracuse man is facing federal charges accusing him of threatening a woman with a straightedge razor during an airplane flight.
Merrill Darrell Fackrell, 41, was charged Tuesday in U.S. District Court with carrying a weapon on an aircraft and assault with a dangerous weapon on an aircraft.
On Monday, JetBlue Flight 871 left John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City en route to Salt Lake City. Fackrell was seated in a window seat while the middle and aisle seats in his row were occupied by a wife and husband, respectively.
Fackrell had a "long and varied" conversation with the wife while the husband watched a movie. Fackrell also had "several alcoholic beverages," the criminal complaint states.
At some point, the woman put on headphones and was watching a movie when police say Fackrell put his hand over the woman's screen and told her to pause the movie. The woman "took off her headphones and realized that Fackrell had his hand clutched with what appeared to her as a knife, inches from her skin at her throat/neck area near the collar of her shirt," according to the complaint.
Fackrell allegedly stood up and began yelling, "She's going to be OK," and, "No one needs to worry," and also told the husband to leave, the charges state.
The husband went to the front of the plane for help while the wife lunged for the aisle. Fackrell grabbed the woman by the shoulder to stop her but she broke free and ran to the front of the plane, the complaint says.
The woman told KSL.com Wednesday afternoon that her when husband went to get help, he was not aware that Fackrell was threatening her.
"He was going to get help because he knew something was really off with Fackrell and had had enough," the woman said. "(My husband) was only a few steps ahead of me when I lunged into the aisle. He didn't knowingly leave me to handle a man with a weapon all by myself."
After the woman and her husband moved to the front of the plane, the passenger sitting across the aisle confronted Fackrell and got him to put the weapon down, according to police. After passing the weapon off to crew members for safekeeping, the passenger sat by Fackrell for the rest of the flight.
Investigators determined that the weapon was a wood-handled straightedge razor with a 1- to 2-inch blade. The victims are seeking a no-contact order, court records show.