A Utah man accused of holding a razor close to the throat of another passenger on a flight from New York City to Salt Lake City has been charged with assault, authorities said.
He was charged Tuesday with assault with a dangerous weapon on or near an airplane and carrying a weapon on a flight, prosecutors with the US Justice Department’s Utah District office said.
Merrill Darrell Fackrell, 41, of Syracuse, Utah, a northern suburb of Salt Lake City, was assigned an attorney from the federal public defender’s office, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Authorities say he boarded a flight at John F. Kennedy International Airport with a concealed straight-edge razor marketed for barbers.
The incident happened Monday, at the start of one of the busiest travel weeks of the year, with AAA expecting more than 53.4 million people to leave home for Thanksgiving.
Fackrell, who authorities say “drank multiple alcoholic beverages,” used his hand to try to block the screen of a woman who was watching a movie in the seat next to him, according to a police account included in the criminal complaint.
The woman said she held the razor close to her throat as she told her to pause the movie, according to prosecutors.
The woman’s husband, who was sitting in the same row, had gone to get help.
“I was going to get help because I knew something was wrong,” the woman told the NBC affiliate. KSL, who withheld his name. “He did not knowingly leave me to handle a man with a gun by myself.”
The woman threw herself into the hallway and was unharmed, prosecutors said.
The couple were moved to the front of the plane, he said.
Magistrate Judge Daphne A. Oberg of the US District Court in Utah ordered Fackrell’s arrest on Wednesday.
His defense had argued that he be released to his parents’ residence in Utah, citing a lack of a criminal record and the need for medical treatment.