On Friday night a passenger on Frontier Airlines was taken into custody after boarding the plane with two box cutters. 

Emergency Landing

Eyewitnesses claim a few military veterans and a former law enforcement officer on board the plane helped the flight staff subdue the man once the plane landed.

The flight departed from Cincinnati and was en route to Tampa until the incident caused the pilot to have to land in Atlanta “after a passenger on board the aircraft observed in possession of a box cutter,” according to Frontier.

In a statement by the TSA, the plane was diverted at about 9:30 p.m. “after a disturbance involving a disruptive passenger, in possession of a box cutter was declared.” Once the suspect had been searched, a second box cutter was found in the passenger’s carry-on.

TSA Practices Under Investigation

Photo Credit: Adonai Gabor

The police did not leave a statement on the incident, instead, it was referred to the FBI. The FBI did not wish to comment and expressed to the media to get a statement from the TSA.

On Sunday the TSA declared they did see one of the box cutters in the passenger’s carry-on, however, “the visible blades were removed from the box cutter and provided back to the passenger.” This is against standard procedure, the box cutter should have been confiscated. The only way to bring objects of this nature on board is by placing them in your checked bags. 

At Cincinnati Airport the passenger’s belongings went through a thorough screening using CT technology. This technology develops 3D images of your belongings and allows agents to even rotate the image for a thorough analysis. Upon image review, TSA officials realized the capabilities of the scanner “were not fully used.” And unfortunately, the box cutters were “not identified by the CT operator,” in a statement from the TSA.

The employees involved in this incident have been placed in a training status for remediation on CT image review and physical search procedures, the agency said.

Who Is Larry Cumberbatch?

Before the plane conducted the emergency landing, passengers had noticed the man acting extremely weirdly. One passenger by the name of Ben Mutz reported to ABC News that he spoke to the passenger that was sitting next to the man with the box cutter. He said the man “flashed a box knife at me and said, ‘I want to kill or I want to stab people,” Mutz stated.

Another passenger, Larry Cumberbatch who was visiting his son for his birthday stated that a woman in the aisle seat next to the man said she saw “some kind of knife” and became scared for her life. Flight attendants asked if any of the passengers had a military background. Then Cumberbatch, a navy veteran, volunteered to switch seats with the woman.

Once Cumberbatch got to the back of the plane he found the man with his feet up in the aisle seat and proceeded to the bathroom. Once the man came out of the bathroom he confronted Cumberbatch in what passengers described as a “showdown.”

“People back there, you could see they’re afraid. So that’s why I stood there, to give them a calming presence and let this guy know somebody is watching, someone who you will have to deal with if you take it to the next level,” Cumberbatch said.

Ex Military & Police Vet Subdue Passenger

When the plane landed, passengers were told to leave their belongings and exit the gate. None of the passengers were aware they had landed in Atlanta.

Cumberbatch, an Army veteran, along with a police officer escorted the passenger off the plane. Once police officers arrived, the passenger “got agitated,” and the former police officer gave him a warning before tackling him to the ground.

“In my mind, he was the hero right at that moment,” Cumberbatch said.

Cumberbatch said he “wasn’t surprised” that veterans responded at the moment.

“We’re going to take control of any situation that we’re in,” he said.

The rest of the passengers were given accommodations for the evening and then were provided another flight to Tampa the following day.