ATLANTA - Veterans on a Frontier Airlines flight from Cincinnati to Tampa had their instincts put to the test on Veterans Day. TSA officials say a disturbance involving an erratic passenger with a weapon on board forced the flight to divert to Atlanta Friday night.
"The lady came up and told us that the person sitting to the right of her seat had a weapon and showed it to them and said he was going to cut multiple people on the flight," passenger Larry Cumberbatch recalled.
Cumberbatch, a US Navy veteran, told FOX 5 that crew members tapped him and another former member of the military on board to help subdue the suspect if anything escalated. So, they came up with a plan for him to switch seats with the woman who notified flight crew members about the threats.
"He has a weapon and I don’t know what kind of weapon it is ... I said, ‘hey I’m gonna be sitting here from now on’ and he said ‘no the young lady is gonna be sitting there’…he got like frantic, and he said ‘oh no!’…and then he got up and went to the back of the plane," Cumberbatch explained.
He told FOX 5 as the plane landed in Atlanta and passengers began to get off, the suspect refused to deplane and then walked toward flight attendants with his hands in his pockets. That’s when another man, with a background in law enforcement, tackled him.
"He was concerned his movements were gonna go toward them and harm them…he just grabbed him, bear hugged him, and they fell," Cumberbatch said.
Atlanta Police arrested the suspect. Cellphone video obtained by FOX 5 showed police taking the man in custody. Cumberbatch and the other men who assisted earned praise from their fellow passengers on board for their bravery. He said it was turbulence they were more than equipped to handle.
"Serving in the military, that’s what you do," he said.
Authorities have not identified the suspect or shared any other details at this time. A statement from TSA reads in-part:
"TSA takes its role in transportation security very seriously. 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. TSA has started an internal review of the incident by viewing CCTV, airport security checkpoint processes/operations and will continue to provide updates as they are available. TSA can confirm that blades are prohibited in the cabin, but allowed in checked luggage."
You can find information on what items are allowed here.