Utah man charged after assaulting woman with razor blade on plane headed to Salt Lake City

Posted at 11:26 AM, Nov 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-23 20:16:35-05

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah man is facing federal charges for allegedly carrying and using a straight-edge razor blade on a flight headed to Salt Lake City from New York.

The man, identified as 41-year-old Merrill Darrell Fackrell, from Syracuse, was arrested and charged with Carrying a Weapon on an Aircraft and Assault with a Dangerous Weapon in the Special Aircraft Jurisdiction of the United States.

On Monday, officials report Fackrell boarded a JetBlue Flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York headed to Salt Lake City International Airport.

When on the plane, Fackrell was seated in a window seat next to a married couple, officials said.

Court documents report he had "several alcoholic beverages" prior to the incident.

At some point during the flight, Fackrell turned to the woman next to him and told her to pause her movie, documents state.

When the woman took off her headphones, she realized Fackrell had his hand clutched "with what appeared to her as a knife," court documents report, just inches from her throat.

"Fackrell then stood up and started yelling 'She’s going to be ok,' and 'no one needs to worry,'" documents state. He also shouted expletives at her husband.

The husband of the woman went to get help from a flight attendant and the woman lunged into the aisle to escape Fackrell, officials report. He tried to stop her by grabbing her shoulder but she was able to break free and escape to the front of the plane.

Later, the object was secured and identified as a Facon wood-handled straight-edge razor with a one-to-two-inch blade, officials said.

An investigation is underway by the Salt Lake City Police Department and an FBI Task Force Officer.

JetBlue said the safety of customers and crewmembers is the company's first priority, and they are working with law enforcement in the investigation.

"On Monday, the crew of JetBlue flight 871 with service from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) were made aware of a customer on board that began acting erratically and threatening toward other customers near the end of the flight," a statement from JetBlue reads. "Crewmembers responded by working to de-escalate the situation and notified law enforcement who met the flight in Salt Lake City.  The safety of our customers and crewmembers is JetBlue’s first priority, and we will support law enforcement during their investigation.  Further inquiries should be directed to authorities."