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Utah man charged after holding razor blade to fellow passenger’s throat during flight

A Utah man accused of holding a straight razor to another passenger’s throat on a New York City-Salt Lake City flight has been charged with assault, authorities said.

He was charged on Tuesday with assault with a dangerous weapon on or near an aircraft and carrying a weapon on a flight, prosecutors with the U.S. 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 by the office of a federal public defender, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Officials say he boarded a flight at John F. Kennedy International Airport with a concealed razor sold to 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 their homes for Thanksgiving.

Fackrell, who officials said ‘drank several alcoholic beverages’, used his hand to try to block the screen of a woman watching a movie in the seat next to him, according to a police account included in the criminal complaint.

The woman said he held the razor close to her throat as he told her to pause the movie, prosecutors say.

The woman’s husband, who was seated in the same row, had gone for help.

“He was going to get help because he knew something was seriously wrong,” the woman told NBC affiliate KSL, which withheld her name. “He didn’t knowingly let me handle a man with a gun on my own.”

The woman rushed into the driveway and was not injured, prosecutors said.

The couple were moved to the front of the plane, he added.

Judge Daphne A. Oberg of the U.S. District Court in Utah ordered Fackrell’s detention on Wednesday.

His defense had pleaded for him to be released at his parents’ residence in Utah, citing the lack of a criminal record and the need for medical treatment.


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