TSA says agents didn’t follow protocol; Man brings box cutters aboard CVG flight

CINCINNATI — TSA employees are undergoing remediation training after allowing a man to bring two box cutters aboard a CVG flight headed to Tampa, TSA spokesperson Patricia Mancha said.

The pilots were forced to make an emergency landing after the man threatened to stab and kill people on the plane.

Friday evening, the flight diverted to Atlanta after a man threatened passengers and crew with a box cutter. After the plane made an emergency landing, the man was taken into custody.

Per TSA’s rules, box cutters are prohibited on a person or in a carry-on, but are allowed to be within checked luggage.

Mancha said that around 5:30 p.m. Friday, the man approached the TSA checkpoint in CVG where he provided his ticket for Flight 1761 and a temporary Ohio drivers license. After review, he proceeded to physical screening.

His belongings were screened using CT technology that creates a 3D image that rotates 360 degrees for analysis, Mancha said.

“Following review of the incident, including closed-circuit television (CCTV), the image review capabilities of the CT were not fully used,” Mancha said. “The box cutters were not identified by the CT operator, but his property was identified for a further search.”

During that search, Mancha said one box cutter was discovered, it’s blades were removed and provided back to the passenger.

“This is contrary to standard operating procedure which requires these items to be placed in checked bags or voluntarily abandoned,” Mancha said.

She said the backpack containing the other box cutter was screened for explosives, but it wasn’t flagged or discovered.

The TSA employees involved in the passenger’s screening have been placed in a training status for remediation on CT image review and physical search protocol, Mancha said.

Other than that, TSA is conducting shift briefs on the incident for all CVG and State of Kentucky employees.

There will also be statewide refresher training on CT image review, and nationally TSA is issuing a shift brief for all screening employees on this incident.

Police nor TSA have released the identity of the man who brought the box cutters onboard.

“TSA takes its role in transportation security very seriously,” Mancha said. “The situation with the Frontier flight is under investigation with the US Attorney’s Office, as they are the lead federal agency in this matter.”

According to ABC News, eyewitnesses said several passengers — including military veterans and a former law enforcement officer — helped crew members subdue the man.

Larry Cumberbatch, a Navy veteran, told ABC News he was seated in the third row when a woman who was initially in the aisle seat next to the man reported seeing “some kind of knife” and was afraid for her safety. Flight attendants then asked those with any military or police background to switch seats with her or go to the back of the plane, and Cumberbatch said he volunteered.

Cumberbatch said the man went to the bathroom and when he returned, he confronted Cumberbatch in the aisle. Cumberbatch described it as a “showdown.”

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

Cumberbatch said that a former law enforcement officer calmly talked to the man during the emergency landing.

Cumberbatch and an Army veteran remained on the plane while the former officer escorted the man with the box cutter down the aisle, Cumberbatch said. He also said when police officers arrived, the man with the box cutter “got agitated” and was given a warning before the former officer tackled him.

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

Cumberbatch also said he spoke to FBI agents following police taking the man into custody.

Frontier said the other passengers on the flight were given hotel accommodations and all were rebooked on a flight that landed in Tampa on Saturday morning.

WCPO is a content partner of Cox First Media.

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