National Insecurity -- Perception, Bombs, And Fear

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Threat Assessment And Lethal Force

Although many nationally broadcast early reports said the man shot dead by federal air marshals in a Miami jetway on Dec. 8 cried out that he had a bomb as he ran down the aisle of an airliner -- as officials had told reporters -- follow-up reports have recently highlighted that no quoted passengers recalled hearing any such threats (a point AVweb was careful to note in its initial next-day coverage). The Orlando Sentinel reports that seven passengers interviewed from the front and rear of the passenger cabin said Rigoberto Alpizar was silent as he ran past them on his way to the exit. "I can tell you, he never said a thing in that airplane. He never called out he had a bomb," said Orlando architect Jorge A. Borrelli. "He never said a word from the point he passed me at Row 9. He did not say a word to anybody." John McAlhany, who was seated several rows in front of Alpizar, told The Associated Press: "The first time I heard the word 'bomb' was when I was interviewed by the FBI. They kept asking if I heard him say the B-word. And I said, 'What is the B-word?' And they were like, 'Bomb.' I said no. They said, 'Are you sure?' And I am." Passenger Mary Gardner agreed: "I did not hear him say that he had a bomb." Federal officials have since said that Alpizar made the threat in the jetway where it seems he may have been alone with air marshals (previous reports stated Alpizar uttered threatening words while seated). Alpizar's wife has said he had a bipolar disorder and was off his medication. No bomb or any evidence of a threat was found.