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Miami Flight - Shots Fired
December 7, 2005 11:57 AM   Subscribe

Live News Filter: Federal air marshal fires shots in jet bridge of American Airlines flight in Miami. NBC | CNN reports.
posted by ericb (332 comments total)

 
The aircraft is apparently was on a stopover during a flight from Medellin, Colombia, to Orlando, Florida. Sources say a passenger claimed to have bomb; one person is reported injured.
posted by ericb at 11:58 AM on December 7, 2005


Umm, so?
posted by mischief at 12:00 PM on December 7, 2005


A while back I said that I could watch the news and guess what would be posted on metafilter. Well, it happened again.
posted by puke & cry at 12:02 PM on December 7, 2005 [1 favorite]


I shot a guy on a plane once. I shot him with my pee, though, so there were no serious injuries.
posted by selfnoise at 12:03 PM on December 7, 2005


it wasn't on the plane itself, but the connecting thing to the plane---very misleading CNN wording.
posted by amberglow at 12:04 PM on December 7, 2005


I'm pretty sure n-tv just said that someone had a bomb in his carry-on.

There's also a question of whether it was on the plane itself or in the jetway.
posted by oaf at 12:04 PM on December 7, 2005


a bomd? a coke bomb in his/her belly more likely.
posted by garfield at 12:05 PM on December 7, 2005


I once shot a snake on a plane, just to watch it die.
posted by loquacious at 12:05 PM on December 7, 2005


Bush approval rating to soar!
posted by orthogonality at 12:05 PM on December 7, 2005


Bush approval rating to soar!

Karl Rove's got to be involved in this one!
posted by ericb at 12:06 PM on December 7, 2005


Why do flights from Columbia to Orlando land in Miami? That's kind of silly, isn't it? It'd be like flying from Australia to LA, but being forced to stopover in San Diego for a bit.
posted by mathowie at 12:06 PM on December 7, 2005


I wonder if the passenger watched themselves being shot live on CNN?
posted by tpl1212 at 12:06 PM on December 7, 2005


well, obviously the sharp object repeal is calming down the situation...




put down those scissors, scumbag!
posted by Busithoth at 12:06 PM on December 7, 2005


Man, I can't wait to get my private pilot's license so I can fly myself where ever I need to go and avoid the nightmare that is commercial air travel.

I agree that CNN set up the story in a very misleading fashion but its not the first time.

ortho, that would be a neat trick. Not a good one but a neat one.
posted by fenriq at 12:06 PM on December 7, 2005


Thank God they take your lighters, second hand smoke KILLS!
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 12:07 PM on December 7, 2005


Bush approval rating to soar!

Which means that he would be using this to cover up something bad...oh wait. Nevermind.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 12:07 PM on December 7, 2005


Thank God they take your lighters, second hand smoke KILLS!

Oh, and the plastic explosive that guy tried to light. That, too.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:10 PM on December 7, 2005


Note to wannabe ter'rists: You're supposed to wait until you get on the plane before you start spouting off about the mickey-moused ordnance you've slapped together and stuffed in your stylish Ozark Trails Wal-Mart special carryon bag.

Not in the departure lounge. Not in the security checkpoint. On the plane. Y'know, while it's airborne. I know flying can be stressful, but if you can't wait until takeoff you might want to consider another line of work.
posted by loquacious at 12:10 PM on December 7, 2005


mathowie wrote: Why do flights from Columbia to Orlando land in Miami?

It probably has something to do with better Customs facilities. More staff, better "interview" rooms, more dogs, etc.
posted by loquacious at 12:12 PM on December 7, 2005


i wonder if the guy was being sarcastic.
posted by j-urb at 12:15 PM on December 7, 2005


Guy claims to have bomb. Deals with consequences. News at www.metafilter.com.
posted by dios at 12:15 PM on December 7, 2005


It probably has something to do with better Customs facilities. More staff, better "interview" rooms, more dogs, etc.

That, and it's over 200 miles away.
posted by oaf at 12:15 PM on December 7, 2005


No, no, he said "Miss Congeniality's what they're showing? What a bomb."
Then they shot him.
posted by klangklangston at 12:16 PM on December 7, 2005


It's -16° C where I live. [developing]
posted by mazola at 12:17 PM on December 7, 2005


Was he playing Zero Wing?
posted by selfnoise at 12:18 PM on December 7, 2005



posted by TetrisKid at 12:18 PM on December 7, 2005


Wow. That is some arm hair.
posted by selfnoise at 12:20 PM on December 7, 2005


Giant jellyfish devastating the livelihoods of fishermen in the Sea of Japan
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:20 PM on December 7, 2005


CNN updated their titles and stories:
A man shot and wounded on a Jetway at Miami International Aiport said he had a bomb, a senior administration official told CNN.
posted by mathowie at 12:20 PM on December 7, 2005


It's -16° C where I live...NBC | CNN reports
posted by tpl1212 at 12:20 PM on December 7, 2005


Guy claims to have bomb. Deals with consequences. News at www.metafilter.com.
posted by dios at 12:15 PM PST on December 7


Yeah, guys, this isn't an unusual story or anything. Happens every day. I was shot at by an air marshal just last week.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:21 PM on December 7, 2005


You can't say bomb on an airplane

Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb ba bomb
posted by Emperor Yamamoto's Eggs at 12:22 PM on December 7, 2005


From CNN:

AIR MARSHAL SHOT AND WOUNDED
PASSENGER ON PLANE'S JETWAY

Nice line break.
posted by punishinglemur at 12:22 PM on December 7, 2005


Guys fly plane into building. Deal with consequences. News at www.metafilter.com.
posted by dios at 10:48:15 AM PST on September 11 [!]

posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:23 PM on December 7, 2005


That one was worth a post. This one, not so much.
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:24 PM on December 7, 2005



posted by drpynchon at 12:24 PM on December 7, 2005


Why do flights from Columbia to Orlando land in Miami? That's kind of silly, isn't it? It'd be like flying from Australia to LA, but being forced to stopover in San Diego for a bit.

More like stopping in LA to go to San Francisco. As others have said, Orlando is a long way away. And not much of a city, IMO.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:25 PM on December 7, 2005


From CL's link... did you know that a large grouping of jellyfish is called a "smack"?
posted by BobFrapples at 12:27 PM on December 7, 2005


I once shot a snake on a plane, just to watch it die.

Pfft. I'm so mean I once shot an airplane just because it was snoring too loud.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:30 PM on December 7, 2005


Why do flights from Columbia to Orlando land in Miami? That's kind of silly, isn't it? It'd be like flying from Australia to LA, but being forced to stopover in San Diego for a bit.

Tell me about it. I was flying from San Diego to Ft. Lauderdale last week and had to first make a 20 minute jump up to LAX in order to make it to Florida. Didn't even get to finish my fucking cocktail.
posted by afx114 at 12:31 PM on December 7, 2005


NBC News' Pete Williams said authorities did not find a bomb.

This could get fairly interesting if it turns out the guy was joking or was misheard.
posted by truex at 12:31 PM on December 7, 2005


HUNDREDS OF PASSENGERS KILLED
TIME STANDING STILL

More as it happens.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:32 PM on December 7, 2005


You wanna bet he's Brazilian?
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:32 PM on December 7, 2005


Vin Diesal drinks a shake every morning made of the blood and entrails of snakes peed on by an air marshal on a flight from Medellin.
posted by selfnoise at 12:33 PM on December 7, 2005


or if he was just wearing an overcoat and didn't stop for subway police.
posted by mathowie at 12:33 PM on December 7, 2005


MSNBC says he's dead. ("Looks like I picked the wrong day to freakout on the plane")
posted by pardonyou? at 12:33 PM on December 7, 2005


MICHAEL BOLTON JUST SHOT
A MUSIC VIDEO

More as it happens.
posted by selfnoise at 12:34 PM on December 7, 2005


Why do flights from Columbia to Orlando land in Miami? That's kind of silly, isn't it? It'd be like flying from Australia to LA, but being forced to stopover in San Diego for a bit.

I know US airlines go more with a hub system, but that sort of thing is fairly common on flights in and to Canada. If a couple of relatively close together destinations don't individually merit direct flights from a far away place, they'll do a stop-off flight, dropping some passengers at the first and continuing to the second. It's way less inconvenient for the passengers going to the second place than changing planes. It sounds like this sort of thing might be the situation here.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:34 PM on December 7, 2005


There are no words.
posted by grouse at 12:36 PM on December 7, 2005


MY dad shot down a German aeroplane. We can never fly Lufthansa again.
posted by Joeforking at 12:36 PM on December 7, 2005


Is it just me, or did anyone else notice this misleading juxtaposition:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

For those not in the know, that's a photo of Sen. John Murtha - a major critic of the Bush admin's handling and continued participation in the Iraq war, next to the phrase "Amazing progress in Iraq"
posted by stenseng at 12:37 PM on December 7, 2005


"This is the first time an air marshal has fired a weapon on or near an airplane, a federal official said."

This might be why this is news worthy. Just a thought...
posted by YurikoKinje at 12:38 PM on December 7, 2005


I once shot up on an airplane.
posted by NationalKato at 12:43 PM on December 7, 2005


Abe: Eh...you never know what you're capable of. I never thought I could shoot down a German plane, but last year I proved myself wrong.
posted by rxrfrx at 12:43 PM on December 7, 2005


Newsworthy, yes. Newsfilterworthy, no.
posted by mischief at 12:47 PM on December 7, 2005


You wanna bet he's Brazilian?
posted by CunningLinguist at 3:32 PM EST on December 7


well, duh.

One federal official told [Bob] Orr the man wasn't acting right, that he was acting a little bit crazy and started spouting all kinds of things. -- CBS News

foreign guy acts irregularly. doesn't immediately cooperate. gets shot dead by police. the first thing that gets out to the media is "he said he had a bomb," and although it's an outright lie, it's what everyone will remember.
posted by rxrfrx at 12:47 PM on December 7, 2005


From MSNBC: The passenger began fighting with his wife at the rear of the plane as the plane was being boarded. He got up, got his carry-on and started fighting against the flow of traffic to get out of the plane. He said that he had a bomb in the bag, air marshals ordered him to stop and get down on the ground, he did not, made it out into the jetway and that's where he was shot.

According to an eyewitness on the plane, the man's wife stated several times that the man had bipolar disorder and was off his meds, thus fueling his inappropriate and ultimately fatal behavior.

Take-away message: When you have loved ones who are reliant upon medication to maintain safe behavior, help them to stay on those meds. If you can't, try not to let them get on airplanes.
posted by Dreama at 12:47 PM on December 7, 2005


Even if someone says they have a bomb, they should not be shot based just on that.

If someone is killed by an agent of authority, it shouldn't be passed over without comment/scrutiny, whatever the circumstances.

I can understand why people might react flippantly to this news item, but it's still kind of creepy to actually see.
posted by Drexen at 12:47 PM on December 7, 2005


HUNDREDS OF PASSENGERS KILLED
TIME STANDING STILL


That? Was awesome. Can someone please start collecting these, for the amusement of those of us who are easily amused?
posted by Gator at 12:47 PM on December 7, 2005


I once shot up on an airplane.

OMG R U WILL SELF?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 12:48 PM on December 7, 2005


Dreama - Jesus, that's terrible.

That said, I would really have to stretch to blame Air Marshals for shooting a guy with a bag who said he had a bomb and didn't stop. I mean, what else does he need, a smoking fuse coming out of his pants?
posted by selfnoise at 12:49 PM on December 7, 2005


Guess he'll never pull THAT stunt again.
The poor schlub.
posted by Floydd at 12:51 PM on December 7, 2005


I once blew someone's head through the roof of an aircraft.

Seriously.

Remind me to tell ya about it.
posted by bluedaniel at 12:51 PM on December 7, 2005


HUNDREDS OF PASSENGERS KILLED
TIME STANDING STILL


I'm pretty sure that was also the plot to The Langoliers.
posted by toothgnip at 12:51 PM on December 7, 2005


Man, I can't wait to get my private pilot's license so I can fly myself where ever I need to go and avoid the nightmare that is commercial air travel.

posted by fenriq at 12:06 PM PST on December 7 [!]


Mind if I hitch a ride sometime? After a hellish flight to Manchester last year I swore I'd avoid flying commercially whenever I could help it.

And yeah, this may be passe to some of you guys, but it freaks me out. An innocent, albeit mentally disturbed individual just got killed.
posted by kosher_jenny at 12:52 PM on December 7, 2005


the first thing that gets out to the media is "he said he had a bomb," and although it's an outright lie, it's what everyone will remember.

Wow! I didn't realize we had an eyewitness! So tell us, "rxrfrx," exactly what did happen?
posted by pardonyou? at 12:53 PM on December 7, 2005


Remember, remember the last guy who got capped for not stopping.
posted by anthill at 12:53 PM on December 7, 2005


There's a good FPP here somewhere, I just wish someone would have taken the time to make one.
posted by mazola at 12:54 PM on December 7, 2005



Wow! I didn't realize we had an eyewitness! So tell us, "rxrfrx," exactly what did happen?


pardon you?
posted by rxrfrx at 12:54 PM on December 7, 2005


CNN reports the passenger was a U.S. citizen.
posted by punishinglemur at 12:57 PM on December 7, 2005


Maybe he looked foreign though.
posted by punishinglemur at 12:57 PM on December 7, 2005


kosher_jenny -- he was "innocent" of having a bomb. He wasn't innocent of creating an extremely unsafe and horrifying situation, of making a bomb threat, of acting in a suspicious and dangerous manner or refusing the lawful order of the air marshals. He wasn't a terrorist and he was supposedly mental ill, but that doesn't change the fact that he did do something, he wasn't just shot because someone didn't like his face.

From the marshals' perspective, if this guy was screaming that he had a bomb and made it into the terminal, he could've killed hundreds of people. What should they have done? If this guy had been armed with explosives and had made it into the terminal and detonated himself, we'd be sitting here condemning the marshals who didn't shoot the guy in the jetway when they had the chance to save all of those people.
posted by Dreama at 12:57 PM on December 7, 2005


pardon you?
posted by rxrfrx at 3:54 PM EST on December 7 [!]


So...because an innocent man was shot before under those circumstances, another man in a different country must have had exactly the same thing happen? Truly, your powers of deduction are astounding.
posted by unreason at 12:57 PM on December 7, 2005


Which is good enough for me to start speculating about just how outrageous and unjustifiable this shooting is.
posted by punishinglemur at 12:57 PM on December 7, 2005


Take-away message: When you have loved ones who are reliant upon medication to maintain safe behavior, help them to stay on those meds. If you can't, try not to let them get on airplanes.

Wow, so the new motto for police is, "Shoot first, ask questions later."
posted by fandango_matt at 12:58 PM on December 7, 2005


Truly, your powers of deduction are astounding.

You're either too thick to understand what I was saying, or you're just trying to be a prick. Not really so helpful.
posted by rxrfrx at 12:59 PM on December 7, 2005


pardon you?

Yes, I know all about the Menezes situation. Just suggesting you might want to hold off on claiming that it's all a big lie, when there's non-law enforcement eyewitness evidence to the contrary.
posted by pardonyou? at 12:59 PM on December 7, 2005


Wow, so the new motto for police is, "Shoot first, ask questions later."

What question would you have asked? "What kind of bomb, sir?"
posted by NationalKato at 12:59 PM on December 7, 2005


BREAKING NEWS >>> Former British P.M. Margaret Thatcher has been hospitalized after falling ill, her political party has said. Details soon.
posted by mazola at 1:00 PM on December 7, 2005


Agreed mischief.
posted by YurikoKinje at 1:01 PM on December 7, 2005


Just suggesting you might want to hold off on claiming that it's all a big lie

Based on the evidence available to me 13 minutes ago, I believe my assumption that it was a big lie was justified. Right now, I would hypothesize that if the guy was really off his meds, it was either just an unfortunate situation for all, or he was trying to commit suicide.
posted by rxrfrx at 1:01 PM on December 7, 2005


PASSSENGER HAS FRECKLES ON HER BUT
SHE'S HAPPY
posted by cloeburner at 1:02 PM on December 7, 2005


Why do flights from Columbia to Orlando land in Miami? That's kind of silly, isn't it? It'd be like flying from Australia to LA, but being forced to stopover in San Diego for a bit.

sometimes, airlines stop to let some passangers get off the plane at more desirable airport. for example, japan airlines have flight between tokyo and san francisco, but it actually originates from hong kong (or HK being the final destination) just so that they can have passangers flying to or from HK and tokyo.

not sure about this instance though.
posted by grafholic at 1:03 PM on December 7, 2005


Kind of late to ask questions, isn't it?

Apparently he was running away from the marshals, so they shot him in the back. Nice job, guys. Remember September 11, Let's Roll, Mission Accomplished.
posted by fandango_matt at 1:03 PM on December 7, 2005


You're either too thick to understand what I was saying, or you're just trying to be a prick. Not really so helpful.
posted by rxrfrx at 3:59 PM EST on December 7 [!]


Very well. Let me state it more plainly. You claimed that police acted improperly. Others asked how you knew this. You responded with a link to another situation in which police acted improperly. My response is that this is not a strong logical argument. Frankly, if you can not see the logical flaws in generalizing based on one case study, there is little point in future conversation.
posted by unreason at 1:04 PM on December 7, 2005


I don't think assuming that it was a LIE was justified, although assuming that it was not true might have been.
posted by empath at 1:04 PM on December 7, 2005


there is little point in future conversation

well, duh.
posted by rxrfrx at 1:05 PM on December 7, 2005


From CNN's ongoing coverage:

Upon investigation, there was no evidence that the man had a bomb, an official said.

So, looks like rxrfrx is on point.
posted by NationalKato at 1:05 PM on December 7, 2005


I would interpret that to mean that he did not really have a bomb, not that there was no evidence that he claimed to have one.
posted by rxrfrx at 1:06 PM on December 7, 2005


Never done this before, but

Metafilter: there is little point in future conversation.
posted by selfnoise at 1:09 PM on December 7, 2005


Thank god this was posted here, otherwise I how would I ever had known it had happened!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by Elpoca at 1:09 PM on December 7, 2005


Jurisdictional issue: did the Air Marshall have authority to act in the jet way? [via NPR]
posted by mazola at 1:09 PM on December 7, 2005


Which is more likely:

- boarding passenger start shouting "I have a bomb! nyah nyah nyah! catch me if you can!" before getting on the plane and authorities cleverly conclude he's a terrorist and shoot him on the spot for reasons of national security, or

- boarding passenger freaks out shouting gibberish and gesticulating and refusing to stop, and authorities find no other method of stopping him than shooting

Given the mental problems information...

If only he'd been a drunken rockstar, he could have got away alive.
posted by funambulist at 1:10 PM on December 7, 2005



posted by ed at 1:12 PM on December 7, 2005


I have a strong feeling that when all is said and done, the reality will be that this was not a failure of procedure or an incident which shold lead to indictments of national security procedure or the air marshal service, but will be viewed as a personal tragedy for an individual who, like many others, engaged in unsafe and illegal behavior due to mental illness.

The unfortunately juxtaposition of mental patient and policing authorities happens every day, all around the world and unfortunately it happens that the death of the mentally ill person is a consequence. I'm not sure why there's such a rush to the "They shouldn't have shot him! Police brutality! Frantic men on a plane at a crowded international airport who are screaming that they have a bomb in a confusing situation should be reasoned with." position.
posted by Dreama at 1:12 PM on December 7, 2005


What's the phrase for the extra gun crooked police officers would carry? Will air marshalls start carrying fake bombs to drop?

What was the point of shooting him after he was off the plane?
posted by dial-tone at 1:13 PM on December 7, 2005


• boarding passenger freaks out shouting gibberish and gesticulating and refusing to stop, and authorities find no other method of stopping him than shooting

The real question is whether cops are allowed to shoot unarmed people in the back.
posted by fandango_matt at 1:14 PM on December 7, 2005


on the jetway, I might add.
posted by fandango_matt at 1:16 PM on December 7, 2005


Oh no, not that again...
posted by funambulist at 1:16 PM on December 7, 2005


Jurisdictional issue: did the Air Marshall have authority to act in the jet way? [via NPR]
posted by mazola at 3:09 PM CST on December 7


I'm pretty sure the answer is yes. He is a federal authority for air transportation. As I recall, international airport have special zonings for the land and are under federal regulation. (I seem to recall that it why you can duty free shops; the state doesn't "own" the land). I'm certainly no expert on this, but I would be surprised to find out that an Air Marshall Authority does not extend at least into an airport. It would be non-sensical to have an Air Marshall's authority begin and end at a the cockpit door.
posted by dios at 1:16 PM on December 7, 2005


I mean, what else does he need, a smoking fuse coming out of his pants?

Well, that might get him wounded.
To get killed, he needs to be a Brazilian electrician.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 1:16 PM on December 7, 2005


The real question is whether cops are allowed to shoot unarmed people in the back.
posted by fandango_matt at 3:14 PM CST on December 7


How does the cop know he is unarmed. The only information the cop has is that he has a bomb and he is running towards an airport full of people. Hindsight is nifty, ain't it?
posted by dios at 1:17 PM on December 7, 2005


dial-tone: I believe that extra gun is called a "throw" or "drop" gun.
posted by rxrfrx at 1:18 PM on December 7, 2005


Anybody want to link to the wiki for Menezes for the fourth time? I don't think we all have had the opportunity to equivocate these two events yet.
posted by dios at 1:18 PM on December 7, 2005


Can we stop linking to the Wiki entry on Menezes now?
posted by NationalKato at 1:19 PM on December 7, 2005


What was the point of shooting him after he was off the plane?

Because if he had a bomb, he was off the plane and heading into the crowded terminal of one of America's busiest airports where hundreds of people would have been in danger.

The real question is whether cops are allowed to shoot unarmed people in the back.

By his own proclamation, this guy was armed. He said he had a bomb. It wasn't a gun or a knife but he certainly could have hurt someone with an explosive device, no?

As for any jurisdictional questions, if you commit a crime and cross from one jurisdiction to another, pursuing authorities from the original jurisdiction are still empowered to act with their full police powers to affect an end to the situation. Otherwise, all that any criminal being pursued would need to do is just cross a boundary.
posted by Dreama at 1:19 PM on December 7, 2005


dios wins.
posted by NationalKato at 1:19 PM on December 7, 2005


So the basic point seems to be, "Shoot first, ask questions later, better safe than sorry."

This logic sounds familiar, doesn't it? "We need to attack Iraq before there's a mushroom cloud over Manhattan, because we think Saddam has weapons of mass destruction, yadda yadda yadda..."
posted by fandango_matt at 1:20 PM on December 7, 2005


fandango_matt, how tall are you? I imagine one has to be well over six feet to have legs long enough to attempt leaps of logic that are so big. (In other words, that's a really ridiculous analogy.)
posted by Dreama at 1:22 PM on December 7, 2005


What was the point of shooting him after he was off the plane?

Bombs only work on planes now?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:23 PM on December 7, 2005


By his own proclamation, this guy was armed. He said he had a bomb.

No, "officials familiar with the incident" said he said he had a bomb. Geez--why not be skeptical all the way around instead of just in the directions that best fit our preconceptions?
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 1:23 PM on December 7, 2005


No bomb?

Well, live and learn!
posted by Busithoth at 1:25 PM on December 7, 2005


So the basic point seems to be, "Shoot first, ask questions later, better safe than sorry."

If the situation is self-proclaimed bomber running towards a crowd of people? Yes.

If the situation is less emergent? No.

Doesn't degree mean anything here? If the guy claims to have a bomb in the middle of a cornfield in Iowa, there probably isn't the need for shooting him. But when an international flight lands in a busy airport, and a hysterical person states he has a bomb, and is running from the Air Marshall, then there is no time to ask questions. It's called an emergent circumstance.

Should the Air Marshall have been a skeptic and disbelieved the guy? I can just see the posts now if that had happened: "Air Marshall was made aware that the bomber had a bomb, but did nothing, opting instead to try to stop the person to ask questions. Bomber detonated before answering anything, thus killing thousands. What a failure of government to protect us from obvious threats."
posted by dios at 1:26 PM on December 7, 2005


Why do flights from Columbia to Orlando land in Miami? That's kind of silly, isn't it? It'd be like flying from Australia to LA, but being forced to stopover in San Diego for a bit.

Hub, meet spoke.

rxrfrx is suggesting that the early reports may prove unfounded. At this point, that hasn't happened -- there seem to have been witnesses which corroborate the general outline of the incident. de Menezes, among other things, didn't claim to have a bomb. Also, the man here has been identified as a US citizen, although we don't know his ethnic appearance or English fluency. In those senses, rxrfrx was making an imperfect analogy.

pardonyou and unreason are in poor form to rag on him, though. There have been plenty of historical examples of police actions justified by false claims.

POLITE DEBATE ON METAFILTER
IS RARE
posted by dhartung at 1:27 PM on December 7, 2005


So, to sum up:
Cops shooting people in the back = OK
Cops shooting people who are running away = OK
Cops shooting people where no weapon is present = OK
Good to know we've cleared that up.
posted by fandango_matt at 1:27 PM on December 7, 2005


fandango_matt, it's 2005.
posted by NationalKato at 1:28 PM on December 7, 2005


Saying you have a bomb = WAY TO GET KILLED
posted by smackfu at 1:29 PM on December 7, 2005


Why are you being so willfully disingenuous?

Cops shooting people in the back without cause = not OK
Cops shooting people who are running away withou cause= not OK
Cops shooting people where no weapon is present without cause = not OK
Cops shooting people who claim to have a bomb and running hysterically away from authorites towards a crowd of people = OK.

Can you really not see the difference?
posted by dios at 1:30 PM on December 7, 2005


unreason are in poor form to rag on him, though

Just to clarify, I'm not saying that I know that rxrfrx is in the wrong when he says the marshalls were at fault. I'm saying that we have no way of knowing one way or the other based on current evidence.
posted by unreason at 1:30 PM on December 7, 2005


SOMEONE SET US UP THE BOMB
IS IN MY BAG AND I'M GOING TO EXPLODE EVERYONE
posted by rxrfrx at 1:31 PM on December 7, 2005


fandango_matt: you forget it's ok to shoot people in the front, too. Or the side.
posted by funambulist at 1:31 PM on December 7, 2005


No, "officials familiar with the incident" said he said he had a bomb. Geez--why not be skeptical all the way around instead of just in the directions that best fit our preconceptions?

Because I'm sitting in front of a TV, newschannel surfing, and I've now heard three different passengers in phone interviews, all of whom said that they heard the word bomb come from the guy as he was running through the plane acting like a jackass.
posted by Dreama at 1:31 PM on December 7, 2005


My gut: The guy probably was acting erratically (he might have even had a stash of pot in his carry on), but I seriously doubt he actually said he had a bomb (maybe something like--"they probably think I have a bomb!"). The authorities didn't like the fact that the guy was too squirrely to pay due deference to their authority, the guy got more and more squirrely as his worst fears of being mistaken for a terrorist were being realized seemingly in slow motion right before his eyes, and the whole convoluted mess ended in tragedy due to an unfortunate combination of circumstances, miscommunication, the paranoia of the War on Terror age, and certain less noble realities of human nature. But of course, I wasn't there, so I don't really know.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 1:31 PM on December 7, 2005


I'm saying that we have no way of knowing one way or the other based on current evidence.
posted by unreason at 3:30 PM CST on December 7


A problem inherent in any attempts to discuss the specifics or assign blame in a news story that no one knows any facts about beyond the most simple outline. Or, in other words, a problem inherent in all Breaking News posts.
posted by dios at 1:32 PM on December 7, 2005


/me shoots rxrfrx in the back

Oh, sorry about that. Better safe than sorry. Let's Roll.
posted by fandango_matt at 1:32 PM on December 7, 2005


pardonyou and unreason are in poor form to rag on him, though. There have been plenty of historical examples of police actions justified by false claims.

dhartung, if that had been his point, I wouldn't have "ragged on him," I would have agreed with him. But he was saying, unequivocally, that the allegation that the man said he had a bomb was a "big lie." He had no evidence to support that claim, other than a link to a past situation. I happen to believe that if you're going to accuse someone of making up a pretext for killing someone, you should at least have some facts to back up your accusation.
posted by pardonyou? at 1:32 PM on December 7, 2005


/me shoots rxrfrx in the back

Oh, sorry about that. Better safe than sorry. Let's Roll.
posted by fandango_matt at 4:32 PM EST on December 7 [!]


how did you know i was leaving
posted by rxrfrx at 1:33 PM on December 7, 2005


I seriously doubt he actually said he had a bomb (maybe something like--"they probably think I have a bomb!").

That might be true. But one account said he was fighting with his wife and was trying to push through people to get off the plane. What's a good way to get people out of your way? Say you have a bomb.
posted by dios at 1:34 PM on December 7, 2005


Sen. John Murtha

Regret to inform, sir, Mr. Murtha is a representative, not a senator. He recently kicked ass (video) in his response to the president's recent speech.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:34 PM on December 7, 2005


You said you had a bomb. I was just protecting everyone else.
posted by fandango_matt at 1:34 PM on December 7, 2005


Or, in other words, a problem inherent in all Breaking News posts.

Exactly, dios.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 1:34 PM on December 7, 2005


If the bomb had detonated on-air, that would have killed the Air Marshall as well.

Assuming that said Marshall knew about the bomb, we wouldn't know he knew.

Assuming said Marshall was on plane to begin with (not an immediate assumption; not all flights have Marshalls) perhaps he could have known, if he was on-board.

Assuming plane explodes, and assuming the governments involved would tell us there's an Air Marshall aboard, we might be able to do all this improbable if-ing.

In this light, bringing up de Menezes is as entirely an appropriate gesture as would be saying the Marshall was within his rights to shoot this person.
posted by Rothko at 1:35 PM on December 7, 2005


What's a good way to get people out of your way? Say you have a bomb.

Well... A way, at least... Clearly not a "good way"...
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 1:35 PM on December 7, 2005


MetaFilter: But of course, I wasn't there, so I don't really know.
posted by NationalKato at 1:35 PM on December 7, 2005


But he was saying, unequivocally, that the allegation that the man said he had a bomb was a "big lie."

No, I wasn't. I was saying that I assumed it would turn out to be a big lie, based on my observation of similar incidents, and I was saying it in a pretty obviously pessimistic way.

Again, it would be more productive if you acted in good faith and didn't start off by assuming I'm dumb enough to make a stupid argument that I have no qualification to make.
posted by rxrfrx at 1:35 PM on December 7, 2005


Maybe he was just angry about his wife wearing the "I'm with Stupid" t-shirt.
posted by Captaintripps at 1:36 PM on December 7, 2005


MetaFilter: I'm dumb enough to make a stupid argument that I have no qualification to make.
posted by mischief at 1:36 PM on December 7, 2005


What have we learned?

If you want people to get out of your way, don't yell, "I have a bomb!" Instead, yell, "I'm gonna puke!"
posted by fandango_matt at 1:38 PM on December 7, 2005


hey, fandango_matt's finally getting the point in all this!
posted by NationalKato at 1:38 PM on December 7, 2005


So are we going to move on and run sweeps on whether Maggie is going to peg it in shock at her daughter's win on I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here?
posted by longbaugh at 1:39 PM on December 7, 2005


What have we learned?

Keep it quiet.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 1:39 PM on December 7, 2005


this thread calls for a pissing elephant.
posted by quonsar at 1:46 PM on December 7, 2005


But one account said he was fighting with his wife and was trying to push through people to get off the plane.

See, if only he'd stuck to getting drunk, assaulting stewards with knives, knocking about food trolleys, throwing around trays and pouring yoghurt all over the place, then shouting "you're just a f*****g captain and I'm REM", he would have been spared.

Well, he'd actually have to have been in REM, too. That kind of thing helps.
posted by funambulist at 1:47 PM on December 7, 2005


I've heard this sort of thing referred to as 'suicide by cop'. I feel sorry for the officer who shot him.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:49 PM on December 7, 2005


So what are we supposed to do??
Everytime I go to fly I make a point to say "I don't have a bomb", "there's not a bomb in my bag or shoe", I even wear my "I am not a terrorist" t-shirt specifically for travel.
So why do I always end up naked in a back room for hours?
War on terror my red white and blue ass.
posted by hellbient at 1:51 PM on December 7, 2005


The real question is whether cops are allowed to shoot unarmed people in the back.

He claimed that he had a bomb. That makes him armed for the purposes of criminal intent, even if he's not telling the truth. If you rob a bank while claiming falsely that you have a gun, you get charged with armed robbery.

The cop/air marshal/whomever was, if the story is true, absolutely correct to shoot him dead. If, in a crowded public place, you loudly claim that you have a bomb, it is not in the interest of public safety to find out first if you're mentally ill, lying, playing a prank, or what-have-you.

Kudos from this anti-authority leftie to the cop/air marshal/whomever for doing the right thing.
posted by solid-one-love at 1:51 PM on December 7, 2005


kosher_jenny, not at all, come aboard but watch your head, little planes have almost no headroom. Company's nice but I'll warn you, the in-flight entertainment consists solely of me telling bad jokes and sharp swerves to avoid "air potholes".

This is a bummer about the guy who was killed. I still don't get how people think they're being clever or funny or anything but incredibly stupid when they say the word "Bomb" on or anywhere near an airplane.
posted by fenriq at 1:53 PM on December 7, 2005


So what are we supposed to do??
Everytime I go to fly I make a point to say "I don't have a bomb"


See, the lesson I learned is to always have a bomb on me in case I get shot. You know, to make sure the air marshalls don't look bad.
posted by allen.spaulding at 1:58 PM on December 7, 2005


I haven't heard an eyewitness yet say anything about claims of a bomb, just that he was pushing frantically to get off the plane.
posted by CunningLinguist at 1:59 PM on December 7, 2005


Yes, it seems the people who heard him say he had a bomb are the ones in favor of shooting him. Fancy that.

"It's comin' right at us!"
posted by fandango_matt at 2:04 PM on December 7, 2005



Cops shooting people in the back without cause = not OK
Cops shooting people who are running away withou cause= not OK
Cops shooting people where no weapon is present without cause = not OK



Not if you're Samuel Alito...
posted by delmoi at 2:07 PM on December 7, 2005


I just love how the press glosses over all these nuances. Latest CNN web page headline for the story: "Air Marshalls Kill Man who Made Bomb Threat."

Boom--any uncertainty put to rest; historical record now thankfully straight.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 2:09 PM on December 7, 2005


Did he actually say he had a bomb? All I've seen is that he said the word 'bomb' not "I have a bomb" maybe he only meant to say "there's a bomb on the airplane" or something.

He was also running away from the airplane, maybe he thought someone else had a bomb and he just didn't want to get blown up?

Maybe his lips were really chapped and he really wanted to get some baum before the flight?
posted by delmoi at 2:14 PM on December 7, 2005


I used to think that people who went into law enforcement were doing so because they were ready to risk their lives to protect others. These days it seems like being law enforcement, especially the Homeland Security variety, just means you are ready to shoot someone . . . to protect others.

Oh, and linking to this seems to be ticking off Dios.
posted by MetalDog at 2:16 PM on December 7, 2005


Well Dreama says she has heard three different passengers say that they heard the man claim to have a bomb.

Do you not believe her? Or them?

Or do you truly believe that even if a man is acting crazy, claiming loudly to have a bomb, and pushing towards a crowded public building, he should in no event be shot?
posted by Eyebeams at 2:16 PM on December 7, 2005


Once the air marshals told him to stop, the fact that he fled permitted (or required, depending on your point of view) the air marshals to stop him by any means necessary. Whether or not he had a bomb at that point was irrelevant. He was fleeing law officers.
posted by oaf at 2:17 PM on December 7, 2005


And the major difference between this and de Menezes—wasn't de Menezes killed in one place? This guy fled from the police. That is immensely unwise.
posted by oaf at 2:18 PM on December 7, 2005


Oaf - so was J C de Mendez. People said he did so because he was carrying an out od date visa. Worth dying for?
posted by Sijeka at 2:18 PM on December 7, 2005


Oh, wait...sorry, I just remembered that he wasn't.
posted by oaf at 2:18 PM on December 7, 2005


* out of date, even.
posted by Sijeka at 2:19 PM on December 7, 2005


According to the All-Knowing CNN:

"the man, idenitified as Rigoberto Alpizar, said there was a bomb in his carry-on luggage, a Department of Homeland Security official said."

...So it appears that the Dept of Homeland Security finally has it's act together: Within moments of a terrorist event, they're in a position to give the definitive word on what went down. A model of bureacratic efficiency, nicht wahr?
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 2:19 PM on December 7, 2005


See, the lesson I learned is to always have a bomb on me in case I get shot. You know, to make sure the air marshalls don't look bad.

allen.spaulding, you are a model of a good citizen, and we applaud your thoughtfulness. If everyone was as considerate as you, flying would be a lot safer!
posted by funambulist at 2:19 PM on December 7, 2005


I just love how the press glosses over all these nuances. Latest CNN web page headline for the story: "Air Marshalls Kill Man who Made Bomb Threat."

You're looking for nuance in a headline!? That's like looking for spelling tips in a drop cap!
posted by SweetJesus at 2:19 PM on December 7, 2005


No, it wasn't worth dying for, but that's a choice de Menezes (and today's passenger) made. You do not flee from men with guns who are chasing you, whether or not they are police, because if they really wanted you dead, they'd have shot you already.
posted by oaf at 2:19 PM on December 7, 2005


Menezes ran through an entire tube station before getting shot, so, one place...
posted by Sijeka at 2:20 PM on December 7, 2005


If there's a positive in this, it's that the message is now out there loud and clear: there are air marshalls on flights into, out of, and around the US, and they'll shoot if necessary. Somebody out there thinking about a real bomb or other mayhem will have second thoughts.
posted by beagle at 2:20 PM on December 7, 2005


that is, "its act together."
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 2:20 PM on December 7, 2005


I aslo try to make at least one typo in each of my posts so as to make others feel good about their typing abilities.
posted by allen.spaulding at 2:21 PM on December 7, 2005


You don't expect men with guns to kill you when you're innocent in a public space, either. And when your visa is out of date and you fear for your future, I doubt you have time to sit and think, you just do.
posted by Sijeka at 2:21 PM on December 7, 2005


but that's a choice de Menezes (and today's passenger) made

may have made, you mean. why not respect the limits of your certainty?
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 2:21 PM on December 7, 2005


the reason that Menezes link is 'ticking off Dios' (and me) is because it's been linked to over four times. some people think they're enlightening this thread for the first time instead of reading the thread thus far. i mean, at least find another Menezes link...
posted by NationalKato at 2:22 PM on December 7, 2005


I aslo try to make at least one typo in each of my posts so as to make others feel good about their typing abilities.

Much apprecitaed.
posted by Sijeka at 2:22 PM on December 7, 2005


I doubt you have time to sit and think, you just do.

That's a terrible excuse.
posted by NationalKato at 2:24 PM on December 7, 2005


No, it's instinctive.
posted by Sijeka at 2:24 PM on December 7, 2005


Unfortunately, it's also human nature.
posted by fandango_matt at 2:24 PM on December 7, 2005


why not respect the limits of your certainty?

There are people who are outraged even if events were exactly as I imagined them. It's apparently up to the officer to determine, with 100% accuracy, that the guy has a weapon before even considering shooting at him.
posted by oaf at 2:24 PM on December 7, 2005


SOMEONE SET US UP THE BOMB

us <-> up
the meme is so old now you really ought to have it right by now.
posted by quonsar at 2:25 PM on December 7, 2005


No, it's instinctive.

Actually, when my visa is out of date and I'm in a country illegally, my instinct is to renew my fucking visa. Nice try, though.
posted by NationalKato at 2:26 PM on December 7, 2005


And the major difference between this and de Menezes—wasn't de Menezes killed in one place? This guy fled from the police.

Yes, but remember, until a few days later, that was the official story for de Menezes too. Everyone assumed he had been acting dangerously when he hadn't. Cos the police and some eyewitnesses said he had.

Not saying this must be the case here. Sounds like a different kind of incident (both in terms of victim and police behaviour - and the British cops had been following that guy, not reacting to something sudden). But, point is, when these incidents happen, the first statements are what stick most.
posted by funambulist at 2:26 PM on December 7, 2005


You're looking for nuance in a headline!?

Good point. I guess maybe it would just be nice to see a little more nuance in headlines these days, in light of the fact that many people get their info about the world primarily by scanning headlines...
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 2:27 PM on December 7, 2005


OK, Menezes reference alert!
But, regarding the eyewitness reports. If I recall correctly, there were many eyewitness reports after the Menezes incident claiming he was running from the police (later proved wrong), that he had on a thick coat (later proved wrong) even that he had wires sticking out from the coat! So I think this proves conclusively that we know absolutely nothing about what happened to this guy. What guy? Did I say something?
posted by johngumbo at 2:27 PM on December 7, 2005


There are people who are outraged even if events were exactly as I imagined them. It's apparently up to the officer to determine, with 100% accuracy, that the guy has a weapon before even considering shooting at him.

Well then, people might reconsider exam entry for the MI5 or something, because I'm worried officers are a little bit too trigger happy. Look, I understand that in london the risk was great, so it could be in US airports, but an officer is trainned not to answer his instincts and be 100 percent sure before shooting.

Even so, why not shoot people in the leg, for f's sake?
posted by Sijeka at 2:30 PM on December 7, 2005


Somebody out there thinking about a real bomb or other mayhem will have second thoughts.
posted by beagle at 2:20 PM PST on December 7 [!]


Someone wanting to commit SUICIDE setting off a bomb in mid-air is going to care much about death from getting shot by law enforcement?
posted by Rothko at 2:30 PM on December 7, 2005


So I think this proves conclusively that we know absolutely nothing about what happened to this guy. What guy? Did I say something?

Ding-ding-ding-ding-DING! We have a winner.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 2:30 PM on December 7, 2005


posted by Sijeka I doubt you have time to sit and think, you just do.

posted by NationalKato That's a terrible excuse.


So, by that logic, since the air marshals "didn't have time to sit and think, they just did", their actions were inexcusable.
posted by fandango_matt at 2:30 PM on December 7, 2005


Actually, when my visa is out of date and I'm in a country illegally, my instinct is to renew my fucking visa. Nice try, though.

WTF? Are you kidding me? Do you realise countries like UK or the US do not renew visas like +that+ and immigration policies are more strict? You do? You don't?
posted by Sijeka at 2:32 PM on December 7, 2005


Even so, why not shoot people in the leg, for f's sake?

Shooting people in the leg does not stop detonation.
posted by NationalKato at 2:32 PM on December 7, 2005


No, it wasn't worth dying for, but that's a choice de Menezes (and today's passenger) made

Point about first statements sticking abundantly proven....

Now someone really needs to link that Wikipedia article again, maybe? oaf, seriously, please go and read about that case. You seem to have stopped checking the news on that on July 22.
posted by funambulist at 2:32 PM on December 7, 2005


Menezes ran through an entire tube station before getting shot, so, one place...

Actually:
"As for the Brazilian running through the ticket hall, the leaked statement from a police officer ID's as Hotel 3 said that, as the male in the denim jacket had entered the tube station he had transmitted a request for directions as to whether or not this male should be detained. 'I received a reply instructing me to wait,' he said. This suggests an opportunity to stop Mr. Menezes; he wasn't running nor jumping over barriers....Mr. Menezes had time to sit down, one officer says he was actually pinned down to the seat. Two eye witnesses back this up. And the pathology report also suggests that he was killed sitting down. [PBS | August 18, 2005]
posted by ericb at 2:33 PM on December 7, 2005


So, by that logic, since the air marshals "didn't have time to sit and think, they just did", their actions were inexcusable.

No no no....Officers have a DUTY to think before acting. It's their jobs. I was talking about a guy running from officers because he didn't have a valid visa. He just does. Hwe doesn't think. He fears for his future.
posted by Sijeka at 2:33 PM on December 7, 2005


Even so, why not shoot people in the leg, for f's sake?

Shooting people in the leg does not stop detonation.

Ever heard of a dead-man's switch? Shooting them in the head doesn't stop detonation, if you're a smart bomber.
posted by SweetJesus at 2:35 PM on December 7, 2005


Shooting people in the leg does not stop detonation.

it's enough to buy time and stop the man before he reaches a bomb that is supposed to be in a BAG, unless he's wearing detonating devices under a coat (and not a denim jacket, like JCM).
posted by Sijeka at 2:35 PM on December 7, 2005


Has no one wondered how it would be that a person getting off a plane might have a bomb on them? Wouldn't they have passed through some sort of airport security before getting on said plane?

I guess the air marshals on the plane didn't trust the security at the originating airport very much.
posted by Orb at 2:35 PM on December 7, 2005


No! No! We're not allowed to mention de Menezes!
posted by Rothko at 2:36 PM on December 7, 2005


Look, if nothing else, incessently bringing up Menezes (as opposed to any number of instances where innocent victims of police violence were initially misrepresented as acting suspiciously) is that we get to simultanously annoy people while thinking about menses.
posted by allen.spaulding at 2:36 PM on December 7, 2005


always have a bomb on me in case I get shot

Don't forget clean underwear too.
posted by CynicalKnight at 2:36 PM on December 7, 2005


SweetJesus, where would you shoot a bomber?
posted by NationalKato at 2:36 PM on December 7, 2005


Do you have any idea how difficult shooting someone in the leg truly is?
posted by mischief at 2:36 PM on December 7, 2005


I always carry a bomb, because that eliminates the chances of my airplane being hijacked. I mean, who's ever heard of two bombs on a plane at the same time?

Also, he said "bong." Not bomb.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:37 PM on December 7, 2005


where would you shoot a bomber?

In the head if you're 100 percent sure. Wasn't the case here was it?
posted by Sijeka at 2:38 PM on December 7, 2005


And don't forget this comes just a day after the 9/11 commission said we're failing at security. Were there directives issued to be more active? To look more active? Why now after 4 years is there all of a sudden an incident like this?
posted by amberglow at 2:39 PM on December 7, 2005


Do you have any idea how difficult shooting someone in the leg truly is?

Oh god, the shoulder then. And yes I know, and yes I believe well trained agents should be able to do it.
posted by Sijeka at 2:39 PM on December 7, 2005


Ever heard of a dead-man's switch? Shooting them in the head doesn't stop detonation, if you're a smart bomber.

What switch would help dumb shooters?
posted by Rothko at 2:40 PM on December 7, 2005


Someone from Homeland Security is so totally going to stop by this thread and ask for IDs. Sorry, Matt!
posted by VulcanMike at 2:40 PM on December 7, 2005


In the head if you're 100 percent sure. Wasn't the case here was it?

Barring the guy throwing open his bag and explaining his master plan Hollywood-style, guess what '100% sure' is? BOOM!
posted by NationalKato at 2:40 PM on December 7, 2005


Even so, why not shoot people in the leg, for f's sake?
posted by Sijeka


I once had a friend who claimed he would only shoot an intruder in his home in the leg. A ridiculous concept.

Shooting a running man in the leg? Even more so.
posted by justgary at 2:41 PM on December 7, 2005


"well trained agents should be able to do it"

In perfect conditions, yes. In the field? Forget it.
posted by mischief at 2:42 PM on December 7, 2005


Indeed. The back is a much easier target.
posted by fandango_matt at 2:43 PM on December 7, 2005


Were there directives issued to be more active? To look more active? Why now after 4 years is there all of a sudden an incident like this?

To have that logically make any sense at all, you'd have to have cases of random guys running through airports yelling "BOMB" (if that did happen) for the past 4 years where no action was taken my security.
posted by justgary at 2:44 PM on December 7, 2005


You do not flee from men with guns who are chasing you

Especially if you look Muslim.

Rigoberto Alpizar

hmm,


(Menezes)

Not saying profiling is bad, I just hope the training of security peeps modulates the leap-to-conclusions we all do when put in apparent crisis situations.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 2:45 PM on December 7, 2005


Kisses, Dios!
posted by The Bellman at 2:50 PM on December 7, 2005


fandango_matt - do you believe there are any circumstances where a law enforcement official's shooting someone would be justified, other than (I hope you agree?) after the guy shot at the officer first? People keep bringing up obvious points about what the situation may have been, and your response is simply to snark at all of them and mock the air marshal.
posted by Eyebeams at 2:53 PM on December 7, 2005


The clever thing here would have been to shoot the wife, assuming the alleged "I have a bomb!" shout was some clever ploy to distract police from the real bomber.

After all, the couple were clever enough to make it look like they were trying to plant bombs on a plane after they'd gotten off the plane already, so, a higher degree of cunning should have been assumed than that of the average successful terrorist.

No I'm not making sense, but then, what does.
posted by funambulist at 2:55 PM on December 7, 2005


Yes, eyebeams, there are. This, however, was not one of them.
posted by fandango_matt at 2:56 PM on December 7, 2005


Sweet Jesus: If you're a smart bomber, you don't tell people you have a bomb either.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 2:59 PM on December 7, 2005


Because the marshall should not have believed that the man had a bomb, even if he said he did? Because he was running away? Why not?
posted by Eyebeams at 3:00 PM on December 7, 2005


"Also, he said "bong." Not bomb."

I bet he was just singing "La Bamba".
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:04 PM on December 7, 2005


If you honestly believe shooting an unarmed man in the back as he's running away is perfectly acceptable, then I don't think you're capable of understanding why this is an atrocity.
posted by fandango_matt at 3:05 PM on December 7, 2005


To have that logically make any sense at all, you'd have to have cases of random guys running through airports yelling "BOMB"

Can anyone provide a link to a credible news article citing a non-official witness as corroborating the official account that the guy actually did shout "Bomb"?

That'd at least give all us sideline quarter-backs a slightly more solid excuse for talking about this story as if we knew what the facts were. Everyone knows that the officials would say the guy claimed to have a bomb even if this had just been a screw-up; that's pretty standard CYA stuff we've all seen plenty of historical precedents for.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 3:06 PM on December 7, 2005


People have pointed out that he was running toward a crowded public space, but fine - rather than answer legitimate arguments, just pontificate that "we wouldn't understand".
posted by Eyebeams at 3:09 PM on December 7, 2005


running toward a crowded public space or running away from a perceived threat? see, truth is, we don't know which. claiming to know with certainty it was one or the other, and then proceeding with an air of authority from that assumption, that's spin.

as a culture, i don't think we actually know how not to spin the truth anymore... (sigh...)
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 3:11 PM on December 7, 2005


Not if you're Samuel Alito...
posted by delmoi at 4:07 PM CST on December 7


I read your link, and it is obvious from the link the author is not even attempting to understand the legal argument. He merely extrapolates that Alito supports shooting first and asking questions later as a matter of policy. That is just silly and shows a fundamental lack of understanding about what is involved in constitutional inquiry. As the link notes, Alito's position is that the act isn't clearly unconstitutional because it is impossible to frame a brightline rule regarding when deadly force is reasonable. In other words, the Constitution doesn't define what a "reasonable" use would be that would instruct an officer faced with exigent circumstances. Quite simply, as the article notes, Alito says "I do not think the Constitution provides an answer to the officer's dilemma." Saying that Constitutional doesn't contain a brightline rule regarding the reasonableness of force is qualitatively different than being an advocate for "shoot first and ask questions later."
posted by dios at 3:12 PM on December 7, 2005


Okay, so you honestly believe shooting an unarmed man in the back as he's running away is perfectly acceptable?
posted by fandango_matt at 3:13 PM on December 7, 2005


On PBS' News Hour, an interview with a Washington Post reporter indicated that the shooting victim was not a terrorism suspect, in the eyes of the FBI.
posted by Rothko at 3:15 PM on December 7, 2005


then I don't think you're capable of understanding why this is an atrocity.

well, the threat of terrorists in airports is real. Zero-tolerance of error is idiocy, really, and while I don't know the specifics wrt the "bomb" thing (after the tube shooting I am more gun-shy about believing official stories), if (ie. if) the guy was behaving erratically, looked muslim, etc. there is more leeway for understanding, if not condoning, error.

This is what happens when you put armed men with a license to kill in place. Shit happens.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 3:17 PM on December 7, 2005


Some days you just can't get rid of a bomb.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:17 PM on December 7, 2005


then I don't think you're capable of understanding why this is an atrocity.

I think it would be wise to wait until all the facts are in.
posted by mazola at 3:19 PM on December 7, 2005


well, the threat of terrorists in airports is real.

Overall, not so much. 7 terrorists / annual number of airport visitors.
posted by iamck at 3:20 PM on December 7, 2005


iamck, the threat is still present. As 9/11/01 showed, 4 terrorists in control of an airliner can do a fuckton of damage.

Now, granted, 4 terrorists can also liquidate any given movie theater complex in the country, killing, what, hundreds, but for some reason airplanes and airports are still the marquee target.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 3:23 PM on December 7, 2005


looked muslim

that seems to be a pretty vague definition these days


posted by funambulist at 3:27 PM on December 7, 2005


not that it ever wasn't, or couldn't be, vague...
posted by funambulist at 3:28 PM on December 7, 2005


Joe Hallenbeck: What's that?
Jimmy Dix: It's a bomb.
Joe Hallenbeck: It doesn't look like a bomb, it looks like an apple with lines coming out of it. What are they gonna say, "don't open the briefcase, it's full of fresh fruit"?
posted by Joeforking at 3:29 PM on December 7, 2005


response to fandango_matt

Your error is in equating factually harmless with likely harmless.

a) Was the victim actually harmless? It seems so, yes.
b) Did the Air Martial have probable cause to believe the victim was a threat to others? Maybe, we'll have to have an investigation.

B is not contingent on A.
An unarmed man screaming, "I'm a suicide bomber!" out of mental illness is fair game, if the only options are shoot/don't shoot. So would be an unarmed man who only had a toy bomb.

The police don't have to be fair, they're supposed to win. You don't fight the police without expecting escalation.

I'm not saying this shooting was proper, but it is possible that it was proper, yes.
posted by Richard Daly at 3:29 PM on December 7, 2005


sure, doesn't matter how vague. That's the point. Looking muslim raises the probability of getting plugged by our security professionals... (dressing like a PLO terrorist = 100%, black hair, olive skin = x%, x > 0). As does acting erratically in a commercial aircraft. As does having the word "bomb" associated with the event. I went over this line back in July; while the particulars of the Menezes case were false the rationale is still present.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 3:32 PM on December 7, 2005


Can you believe your ears?

Can you be sure what you're hearing is real?

Sound can be projected so it seems to come from somewhere (or someone) else.

Imagine the practical jokes that can be played by using this sort of thing to make voices appear to come from other people, saying things they'd never say.

"The Audio Spotlight sound system... will soon be available for consumer applications. Companies such as Motorola, Time-Warner, DaimlerChrysler, Kraft Foods, Sega, and American Greetings have chosen the Audio Spotlight."

Oh, and kids, don't play with your hacked American Greetings joke audio greeting card at the airport, okay?
posted by hank at 3:39 PM on December 7, 2005


Okay, so you honestly believe shooting an unarmed man in the back as he's running away is perfectly acceptable?

Do I have cause to believe he's armed? I don't have x-ray eyes, you know.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:40 PM on December 7, 2005


while the particulars of the Menezes case were false the rationale is still present

*claps hands*

Ladies and gentlemen, that's what's called the squaring of the circle.
posted by funambulist at 3:42 PM on December 7, 2005


looked muslim

that seems to be a pretty vague definition these days


No kidding, neither of these guys 'looks muslim', they both look like college preppies.
posted by scheptech at 4:05 PM on December 7, 2005


If you honestly believe shooting an unarmed man in the back as he's running away is perfectly acceptable, then I don't think you're capable of understanding why this is an atrocity.

If it is true that he claimed that he had a bomb, then, again, he was not unarmed, legally speaking.
posted by solid-one-love at 4:08 PM on December 7, 2005


Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
posted by funambulist at 4:19 PM on December 7, 2005


We're all a little nervous in this post 9/11 world.
posted by NewBornHippy at 4:26 PM on December 7, 2005


Like, I'm supposed to have sympathy for this chap?! Whatever...
posted by ParisParamus at 4:27 PM on December 7, 2005


Sweet Jesus: If you're a smart bomber, you don't tell people you have a bomb either.

Eh, not always. Depends on whether or not you're attempting to use the bomb as a means of destruction or a means of negotiation. So, a plane comes in from Colombia, a place where hijackings are not uncommon, and someone on the plane claims to have a bomb on board. So, one begins to think - is it ETA? Is it FARC? How about the ACCU? Maybe it's Al Queda, or just a really dedicated radical from Suriname looking to make a name for himself. Maybe it's some just some pissed off guy who's been in a plane for 8 hours, wants to get off, and isn't thinking straight. Of course, in this case, it's a mentally unstable man with a (nonexistent) bomb and a penchant for not following instructions. What do you do?

You shoot him. You shoot him twice, even - just to make sure. You just cannot fuck-around like that in an airport any more.

The comparison to Menezes case is asinine at best, and wholly wrong at worst. Menezes' was a victim of mistaken identity long before he was shot in the subway - the agent who was in charge of id'ing the "suspect" when he left his apartment was taking a leak when Menezes' left, and thus he was wrongly identified by another team further along. It was a fuck-up of tremendous proportions, but it has nothing to do with the circumstances of this case. Two completely different sets of circumstances that led to the same conclusion - someone shot dead by a police officer.

For the number of self-proclaimed logicians we have here, who love to link to the definition of Ad-hominem every time someone gets called an asshat, I'd think the community would understand why the cases are not the same.

Seems that few do...
posted by SweetJesus at 4:52 PM on December 7, 2005


Yeah, who needs sympathy?! So what if the guy was mentally unstable?! Shoot all crazies!

In other news: ParisParamus is a dick.

I think everyone is missing the point. Now we are tied with the Brits! 1-1, who's gonna score next in "Terr'ist Shootout"?
posted by papakwanz at 4:58 PM on December 7, 2005


Air marshalls are plain clothed, no? So there's no reason to believe that he knew he was fleeing officers.

I think a lot of us are twitchy because there are a huge number of unarmed people getting shot by police, but you wouldn't know it unless you were paying attention because it doesn't always make national news. Twitchy++ if you live in a city with a problematic police force. Twitchy++ if you're sensitive to police/minority confrontations. Twitchy++ if you have contact with the mentally ill and understand the troublesome nature of maintaining proper medication.

Then there's the additional frustration of knowing that the mainstream media's obsession with breaking news (esp. when there's blood) will obfuscate the truth.

Whether or not this single case was justified, I think anyone paying attention will admit that there's a problem with the use of deadly force in America. If the media is going to kneejerk an excuse for the cops everytime there's a shooting, I'm not sure that we shouldn't kneejerk back with skepticism.
posted by Skwirl at 5:14 PM on December 7, 2005


The front page post that could (and perhaps should) be written from this one is: how many mentally ill people are shot and/or killed in the US by law enforcement each year? What proportion are those killings with regards to total shootings? Is there a need for more training for forces that come into contact with the mentally ill, such that what may be someone off their meds can be distinguished from a legitimate terrorist threat (or crazed killer, etc.)? Whereas the general population may be unable to make the distinction between these two scenarios, should we expect more from those whose job it is to do so (e.g., talking jumpers down)?

That's something I'd like to see. Otherwise, frankly, it just makes me sad that I can think of a number of cases where the mentally ill have been killed by law enforcement in complex and confusing circumstances. Being sick should not qualify you as a less valuable person.
posted by ltracey at 5:17 PM on December 7, 2005


Thanks. You're a dick to, papakwanz, and I don't mean that your surname is Richard--even if it is.

The system worked. A looney made an unambiguous threat. He was eliminated. DUH....
posted by ParisParamus at 5:18 PM on December 7, 2005


ParisParamus is as erudite and soft-spoken as ever. Such nuance! Such a masterful command of reason, rationality and critical thinking!

*slow golf clap*
posted by loquacious at 5:20 PM on December 7, 2005


when someone threatens you with a bomb, nuance? WTF?
posted by ParisParamus at 5:21 PM on December 7, 2005


And how about those language skills! Let's hear it for those language and communication skills! Everyone, on their feet and give this fine gentleman the ovation he deserves!
posted by loquacious at 5:21 PM on December 7, 2005


How about we wait for the bomb to go off and then shoot him. I can see why you're against the Iraq War. I'm glad you aren't close to running the country.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:23 PM on December 7, 2005


dios writes "Why are you being so willfully disingenuous?

"Cops shooting people in the back without cause = not OK
"Cops shooting people who are running away withou cause= not OK
"Cops shooting people where no weapon is present without cause = not OK
"Cops shooting people who claim to have a bomb and running hysterically away from authorites towards a crowd of people = OK.

"Can you really not see the difference?"


If he really had a bomb:

Why would he not have set it off mid-flight, taking out all 180 passengers and the plane?

What if he found a bomb and was trying to save everyone on the flight by removing the bomb from the plane?

What if he was crazy and off his meds?

Three good reasons to think before shooting.
posted by HyperBlue at 5:29 PM on December 7, 2005


SweetJesus, yes they are very different cases, de Menezes was being followed from his house, and contrary to initial reports he didn't do anything at all that attracted the police attention; but the issues about shooting unarmed people, the related question of what is reasonable suspicion, the media/political rush to extract instant conclusions, the public need of reassurance about the security in place against terrorists, well, those are rather similar. So, not suprising people are connecting the two things.

Plus what Swkirl said.
posted by funambulist at 5:31 PM on December 7, 2005


do we have any explosive specialists or bomb squad members in MeFi? the reason i ask is this:

hypothetical situation:

1. person possibly unstable, claims to have bomb (if you've heard him correctly.)
2. person uncooperative.
3. person moving away from you.

Is shooting that person going to be a good way to prevent explosion IF he had a bomb? Aren't there concerns about setting off the bomb when he falls, or if he doesn't die immediately and has time/ability to trigger it, etc?

What, usually, is considered the proper method for dealing suicide bombers? I suspect that shooting them down isn't REALLY very high on the list of responses, since that could actually do precisely what you're hoping to avoid. but then, I'm askin, not saying, because I don't know. Is there a bomb defuser in the house?
posted by shmegegge at 5:36 PM on December 7, 2005


Attention: Do not run while wearing a backpack at airports because an airmarshall with a gut full of starbucks and an itchy trigger finger might hear someone say they heard you say you have a bomb in there.
posted by HyperBlue at 5:38 PM on December 7, 2005


Fantastic rhetoric!

Ok, I'll bite. So, you are close to running the country?

Or: So, is that what you call what the Bush Administration is doing?

You obviously need a strong editor. You forgot these words: ...running the country into the ground.

There, that's about right. Print it!
posted by loquacious at 5:38 PM on December 7, 2005


True enough, SweetJesus, it does depend.
In this case, given the agitated state of the fellow, my first thought (As a sky marshall) would be that I wasn't dealing with a 'pro' who'd have the savvy to set up a dead man switch.

posted by Alvy Ampersand at 5:39 PM on December 7, 2005


Everyone arguing the legality of the shooting should remember that this took place in Florida, where as of Oct. 1st, 2005, the law says it is OK to shoot first and ask questions never.

That goes double for Air Marshalls.
posted by bashos_frog at 5:40 PM on December 7, 2005


Shmegegge has a good point. What if the guy had a release trigger for the bomb in his hand? He is shot, triggering the bomb. What if the bomb was struck by a bullet and went off? There are too many "gotchas" here to blindly accept that the airmarshalls did the right thing.
posted by HyperBlue at 5:43 PM on December 7, 2005


Shmegegge has a good point. What if the guy had a release trigger for the bomb in his hand? He is shot, triggering the bomb. What if the bomb was struck by a bullet and went off?

OMG, they shot Dennis Hopper!
posted by Cyrano at 5:50 PM on December 7, 2005


Why would he not have set it off mid-flight, taking out all 180 passengers and the plane?

Terrorism is as much about killing as it is about press coverage. So, in-order to bring as much coverage as possible to your cause, you set off the bomb when there are cameras running, parked on the tarmac. That's just one reason.

What if he found a bomb and was trying to save everyone on the flight by removing the bomb from the plane?

Hahahahaha... Oh, yeah, that's probably it. Do you even need to be told why that is such a silly example?

What if he was crazy and off his meds?

It sucks, but he starts yelling about having a bomb, he gets shot.

but the issues about shooting unarmed people, the related question of what is reasonable suspicion, the media/political rush to extract instant conclusions, the public need of reassurance about the security in place against terrorists, well, those are rather similar

What is reasonable suspicion? If you have a suspect who yells "I have a bomb", is it reasonable to assume he's not fucking around? Is it more reasonable to assume he, in fact, has a bomb, rather than assume he may be off his meds? Is it reasonable to shoot the man, after repeatedly telling him to lay on the ground and not move, as he reaches for a bag that said bomb is in? I think the answer to all three questions is "yes".

The politicians and the media will do what they do, which is feed the machine with sound-bites and sensationalism, but that's not the issue. The issue is whether or not air Marshalls have the right (I'd use the term responsibility) to use deadly force on someone who says they have a bomb. I say go for it.
posted by SweetJesus at 5:53 PM on December 7, 2005


Hey, let's not go off half-cocked or leave anything half-safe:

"Hours after the shooting, the plane remained parked at a terminal gate while authorities unloaded passengers' baggage and screened it on the ground beside the aircraft. At least three bags were taken away and blown up on the tarmac."

I look forward to finding out what made them blow up the baggage, so I can avoid packing anything remotely similar when traveling.
posted by hank at 5:55 PM on December 7, 2005


THOUSANDS TO DIE
EGGS FOR EASTER
posted by deemer at 5:56 PM on December 7, 2005


Actually, I think dios has offered the best arguments so far in this thread... it's not often I say that. If ParisParamus wasn't being such a reactive jerk, I'd back him too.

Of course we won't really know until the investigation is complete, but the hypothetical situation of someone claiming he has a bomb, pushing past flight crew and running away up the gangway certainly seems like a situation in which you would get shot.

The idea of having armed marshals on aircraft seems like a really dumb idea, but regardless of who's doing the shooting I can't see this as anything but a tragic accident.

I was the first one to post a De Menznes link, too.
posted by anthill at 5:59 PM on December 7, 2005


To be fair, I mostly agree with dios and ParisParamus and everyone else saying (paraphrased) "You shouted what to an Air Marshal and then ran? Hi, welcome to Darwinism in Action 101. You've failed the class on the first day. Congratulations, dumbass."

It would indeed suck to be the Air Marshal in question. It would really suck to be that guy, though. Or his wife.

The grand moral of the story? People are mostly pretty dumb. Even the smart ones.
posted by loquacious at 6:08 PM on December 7, 2005


Law enforcement officers are trained to always aim for the center of the biggest target mass, the torso, when the need to employ deadly force arises. Head-shots or leg-shots are strictly fiction. If a law enforcement officer draws their weapon and discharges it, chances are that they are going to kill you.

If the passenger did, in fact, claim to have a bomb and subsequently ran toward a crowded airport while ignoring instructions, the Air Marshals had no choice but to do what they did. That the passenger was mentally disturbed does not negate the perceived threat. It's not as though a terrorist bomber is some sort of model for mental equilibrium.

On the current news here on the Left Coast , this case doesn't seem as cut and dried as initial reports first indicated. Like that's a surprise. I'll await further details before judging the Air Marshall's decision-making process.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 6:36 PM on December 7, 2005


The grand moral of the story? People are mostly pretty dumb. Even the smart ones.
posted by loquacious at 6:08 PM PST on December 7 [!]


The grand moral, corrected: People are mostly pretty dumb, so let's give them guns and enact a shoot-first policy.
posted by Rothko at 7:01 PM on December 7, 2005


The story seems to have developed a bit.
Alpizar was confronted by a team of federal air marshals, who followed him down the boarding bridge and ordered him to get on the ground, the official said.
[...]
Air marshals asked him to get off the plane, which he did, but when they asked him to put his bag down, he refused, Adams said. Alpizar then approached the marshals in an aggressive manner, at which point two or three shots were fired, he said.

Not to be too armchair DHS-Secretary about the whole thing, but here's my take. It's regrettable that a mentally ill man was killed today, but he threatened an plane full of people and then fled from air marshalls (it'd be nice if it had been explicitly confirmed that the marshalls had identified themselves before shooting), disobeyed an order from marshalls and then made motions to the backpack where he claimed to have a bomb. Based on this, the air marshall was compelled to shoot out of concern for the saftey of the majority. There's tons of legitimate reasons why he'd reach into his pack, but once he made the bomb threat, the situation went from business as usual to an emergent crisis. The marshall thought he was reaching for his bomb and shot him to keep him from it.

I also haven't read any story that indicated that Alpizar was shot in the back; where did that come from?

Oh, and the term is dead man's switch.
posted by boo_radley at 7:26 PM on December 7, 2005


um, so i guess that means nobody has links to any credible accounts by witnesses other than the officials involved in the incident that corroborate their claims that the guy shouted anything about having a bomb?

(but we're still just going to take it as an article of faith that the agents involved in the incident aren't just playing CYA without any kind of investigation into the incident, because--well, because our suppositions and hypotheticals are just as useful for forming valid opinions about the incident as any revelations stemming from an actual investigation, and anyway, we should probably just get used to the fact that American citizens getting shot by various DHS affiliated authorities is only going to become more and more commonplace because the world changed after 9/11 and it just isn't practical to suspend judgment until--or heck, even bother with--thorough investigations into these kinds of incidents anymore? am i interpreting the attitudes and opinions i'm observing here correctly?)
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 7:54 PM on December 7, 2005


No, I'm being a common sense citizen. It's unfortunate if a mentality ill person who didn't have a bomb was killed, but until mind-reading or precognition is perfected, you can't hope for anything better than what happened. Moreover, you should be thankful that there was the right person in the right place at the right time to take out someone who, given what was known, should have been taken out.

End of story.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:56 PM on December 7, 2005


Your right. And I'll be thankful as hell after a thorough investigation demonstrates that, given what was known, the right person did do the right thing at the right time. Hell, I'd even pin the medal on the right guy's chest myself, if I could. In the meantime, any incident involving the shooting of an unarmed American citizen deserves a very close look by cooler heads with an independent perspective and who have nothing whatsoever to gain by distorting any of the facts surrounding the incident. God, we need another Thomas Jefferson, right now!
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 8:16 PM on December 7, 2005


PASSENGER SAYS SHE HAS A WOMB
THOUSANDS DIE
posted by NewBornHippy at 8:41 PM on December 7, 2005


while the particulars of the Menezes case were false the rationale is still present
*claps hands*

Ladies and gentlemen, that's what's called the squaring of the circle.

What? I predicated my logic arguments in July with "with these set of facts A, I think B for reasons C".

B was contingent on A, but not the rationale, C. I lack serious instruction in formal logic to put this in technical terms without a trip to wikipedia, but I would like to know how you mentally model the world.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 8:51 PM on December 7, 2005


I was the first one to post a De Menznes link, too.
posted by anthill at 5:59 PM PST on December 7


FWIW I was the first one to post a Menedez link.
posted by mazola at 9:04 PM on December 7, 2005


The only two interviews with civilian witnesses I saw on my local news both mentioned the bomb threat as second hand information.

One person interviewed indicated that the disruption between the man and his wife started in the main section of the plane. Air marshals intervened, and escorted Alpizar and his carry-on luggage to the First Class cabin, where the situation then escalated and unraveled.

This is not as Black & White a case as has been represented by those antagonists on both sides, up-thread. Given that eyewitness testimony has proven to be notoriously unreliable, reserving judgement seems the prudent course to take till more facts are in.

I think this kind of emerging news story illustrates why posting breaking news is probably not optimal use of the front page.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 9:12 PM on December 7, 2005


Richard Daly: The police don't have to be fair, they're supposed to win. You don't fight the police without expecting escalation.

Those are a couple of facts that need to change.
posted by Chuckles at 9:18 PM on December 7, 2005


This is not the Menezes case replayed - Menezes apparently was shot for no more reason than looking slightly browner than he should while walking to work amid a sea of police incompetence. The man shot today apparently said the magical word ("bomb") in a plane and acted as if it was true. I don't see how the outcome could be much different.

That said, it is should not prevent an in-deep investigation on the facts, the procedure followed and the alternatives, if any. It should be obvious by now to anyone but the most law-and-orderish persons that, regardless their much incensed training, law enforcement forces is far from immune from incompetence, misjudgment and pure trigger-happiness.

("No, woman, I won't back off, cried the agitated man, this evidence I have in my suitcase will fall on their heads like a BOMB")
posted by nkyad at 9:20 PM on December 7, 2005


A woman who said she was a witness told NBC television's Miami affiliate, WTVJ, that the man's wife had screamed "my husband, my husband," and said he had bipolar disorder and needed medication.

"Her husband ran through the aisle frantically. She ran after him and all of a sudden there were four or five shots," passenger Mary Gardner told the station by telephone.
...

The rest of the plane's 113 passengers were ordered off the plane with their hands in the air and sequestered for questioning.

Some passengers told local media they were treated roughly by police.

"They put a gun to the back of my head and said, 'Put your hands on the seat,"' the Miami Herald newspaper quoted John McAlhany as saying in a story posted on its Web site. "That was more scary than anything."

Passengers' luggage was taken off the plane and laid out in lines on the tarmac, where police dogs were led around sniffing for explosives, television images showed. At least one bag was blown up in a controlled explosion.
shit just happens in bushes america
posted by rodney stewart at 9:46 PM on December 7, 2005


I think this is a fine application of broken windows theory to airport security.

By shooting people for lesser offenses (like aggressive disembarking or, say, boarding aircraft out-of-turn) we could avoid larger problems -- like terrorism!
posted by mazola at 9:46 PM on December 7, 2005


Funy that no one has bothered referencing the fact (as reported) that the wife was screaming "he's bipolar, he's off his meds" the whole time. Which would give the Marshalls a bit more cause for doubt wouldn't it?
posted by wilful at 10:44 PM on December 7, 2005


If the guys backpack had turned out to contain a bomb there isn't a single person here who would second-guess the decision to shoot.

Richard Daly: The police don't have to be fair, they're supposed to win. You don't fight the police without expecting escalation.

Those are a couple of facts that need to change.


Perhaps the former in some sense but you really want the latter to change? You want the cops to just quit doing their job if it gets too hard?
posted by scheptech at 11:00 PM on December 7, 2005


After clearing customs, Alpizar boarded American Airlines Flight 924, a Boeing 757 scheduled to depart at 2:18 p.m. for Orlando, near his home. -source

I'll ask again, since no one else seems to be asking it ... if he had just cleared customs, how could he possibly have had a bomb in his carry-on luggage? Do the air marshals not trust customs and airline security at all? He'd already been through the checkpoints, so it would seem to me that taking a moment to not shoot him several times wouldn't have been that large of a risk to take to see if maybe the woman screaming about him being mentally ill might be telling the truth or not.

But, of course, they are currently on alert looking for a potential Egyptian shoe bomber they let go (oops) and suddenly have decided they want back in custody again ... so I guess it's perfectly understandable that they would shoot anyone for just about any reason. /sarcasm
posted by Orb at 1:27 AM on December 8, 2005


Funy that no one has bothered referencing the fact (as reported) that the wife was screaming "he's bipolar, he's off his meds" the whole time. Which would give the Marshalls a bit more cause for doubt wouldn't it?

Absolutely not. The wife could have been an accomplice. What better way to affect a criminal endeavor than to distract the authorities, even momentarily, with information specifically intended to change their course of action in apprehending the perpetrator and/or preventing his crime?

I'll ask again, since no one else seems to be asking it ... if he had just cleared customs, how could he possibly have had a bomb in his carry-on luggage? Do the air marshals not trust customs and airline security at all?

He could have had a bomb in the same way everyone else has been able to get contraband onto a plane; in the split-seconds that the marshals had to act, were they supposed to verify what was in this guy's bag?
posted by Dreama at 1:48 AM on December 8, 2005


So it looks like this was a actually domestic flight then? Therefore the Air Marshals would have had no idea that he had cleared customs. Not that a customs clearance proves one's innocence. people smuggle things all the time.

The agents wouldn't have been privy to his earlier movements. Nor would they be able to rely on airport security checkpoints to ensure that a passenger wasn't carrying an explosive device. If those checkpoints were flawless, there would then be no need to employ Air Marshals at all.

One thing that gets overlooked in all this security hysteria is that there is actually no effective way to ensure airplane security. The airport screening will catch most crude weapons, but there are many devices that would completely escape detection, including seemingly innocuous ones that are innocent on their own but could be combined in-flight with disastrous consequences.

All that this increased security really does is create a false sense of taking some sort of action, while lining the pockets of favoured business cronys getting the fat government contracts.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 1:55 AM on December 8, 2005


Also, what dreama said about the possibility of the wife being an accomplice is a valid point. One can't assume anything in a such a situation; and as I mentioned before, mental instability does not, ipso facto militate against that particular individual's being a terrorist bomber.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 2:10 AM on December 8, 2005


but what is reasonable suspicion

SweetJesus: I don't have the answers to that either in the specific or absolute case, was just saying the questions are normal and related to other cases.

So, in-order to bring as much coverage as possible to your cause, you set off the bomb when there are cameras running, parked on the tarmac.

hehehehe... sorry but you can't be using the word "silly" for other people's examples after that

This guy was never a terrorist and no one was probably that convinced he might be just because he was acting a bit crazy (which surely must not be the first time ever anyone acts like that on/off plane?); they just shot him cos he wouldn't stop (which surely must not be the first time ever that happens...).
posted by funambulist at 2:23 AM on December 8, 2005


Also, what dreama said about the possibility of the wife being an accomplice is a valid point.

hey! I mentioned it first!

Except I was kidding. Good lord.
posted by funambulist at 2:25 AM on December 8, 2005


Well it's a long thread. That said, I fail to see why a such possibility would be a joking matter.

One thing's for certain though, the Air Marshals didn't see any humour in the situation.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 2:37 AM on December 8, 2005


Oh yeah, while the dead man and his surviving wife certainly did see the humour in it. He laughed so much, he died...

I was kidding about that possibility because that's one instance of bending over backwards to try and imagine terrorist-threat scenarios that actually don't make any fucking sense because for all the "yeah yeah in theory it could happen" (everything could happen, even exploding dogs) terrorists don't plant bombs while they're getting off a plane and then shout about it trying to get off.

The guy was shot because he was acting oddly and would not comply with orders to stop. That from the point of view of police was enough to shoot him dead. That's the issue.
posted by funambulist at 3:04 AM on December 8, 2005


The Unknown
As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know.

-D. H. Rumsfeld, 2002
posted by Rothko at 3:42 AM on December 8, 2005


You have a valid point funambulist, in that such a scenario doesn't seem logical. However all this focus on terrorists ignores that fact that threats to security are not necessarily restricted to Muslim terrorists, nor rational people. Psychotics like Theodore Kaczynski can be anywhere, and a deranged bomber by definition can't be expected to act in a predictable or rational manner.

Further if you read the article posted by Rodney Stewart you'll see that he was getting ON the plane, not off, and didn't flee the plane until accosted by the Air Marshals.

We don't yet know the facts of this incident, and rushing to judge the air marshal's behaviour strikes me as perhaps being more an agenda-driven viewpoint than a sober analysis of a sad event. As for the scenario described as being far-fetched, well who knows what measures terrorists might be employing to determine security flaws.

If it turns out that the he did, in fact, claim to have a bomb, and did refuse to allow his bag to be searched, and then did flee the Marshal; then it's a shame, but no other result could really be expected. These things happen without any chance for careful reflection, the response is pretty well conditioned by their training. It's pretty frikken easy for us to sit around gaming various possibilities after the fact, a luxury those Air Marshals simply don't have.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 3:47 AM on December 8, 2005


Look, PareidolaticBoy, "all that focus on terrorists" started with the media reports. And indeed, anybody could act crazy while getting on or off or inside a plane or airport, it's not unheard of. (Sorry to belabor a lame point but if you're a celebrity apparently that is never considered a threat to security. Not saying that's wrong, logically one would not expect Peter Buck or Courtney Love to be a covert terrorist.)

I don't have a fucking clue about what exactly happened, my only reaction is it's indeed very sad no other way to stop this man was found than kill him. But I don't see that it is so clear that "no other result could really be expected". We'd see a lot more people shot if that were the case.

And I don't even equate this case with the De Menezes one at all. It'd be ludicrous. That was a seriously dodgy and inexplicable series of fuckups at intelligence and police level. This looks like more like extreme reaction to a sudden confusing situation.

But the question of shooting and suspicion is similar, and speaking of the reactions, when you talk of wishing everybody offered a "sober analysis of a sad event", that's what some people said back then about the London tube shooting, and despite the clear difference - it was obvious and became more obvious later there was nothing to be "sober" about in that case cos it wasn't simply a sad event - I just think it's a bit rich to expect people not to be shocked, for reasons Swkirl and others said above.

And between being shocked and the unquestioning acceptance that it had to necessarily go this way, or even saying that that's what you get when you're not looking after family members with mental problems, well, the first looks more like a normal reaction to me. That's all.
posted by funambulist at 4:34 AM on December 8, 2005


I still haven't seen a single passenger say they heard him say anything about a bomb, while the TSA says he was running up the aisle claiming to have one.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:51 AM on December 8, 2005


SweetJesus: I don't have the answers to that either in the specific or absolute case, was just saying the questions are normal and related to other cases.

And I'm saying that if you don't think they had a reasonable suspicion that an aggressive man who was yelling "I've got a bomb in my bag" may actually have had a bomb in his bag, then no one can help you. That is beyond reasonable.

hehehehe... sorry but you can't be using the word "silly" for other people's examples after that

Really? Because that happens all the fucking time, especially in Colombia. I'm willing to bet it happens a hell of a lot more often than some random passenger discovering a bomb on a plane, and attempting to remove it himself... What's so "silly" about my explanation of why a bomber might not want to explode his bomb in mid-air?

This guy was never a terrorist and no one was probably that convinced he might be just because he was acting a bit crazy (which surely must not be the first time ever anyone acts like that on/off plane?); they just shot him cos he wouldn't stop (which surely must not be the first time ever that happens...).

Acting crazy? He ran up the isles yelling "I've got a bomb in my bag", and acted aggressively towards the Air Marshal. If you do that, you get shot. Christ, you know he's not a terrorist now, but you have no idea when he's running up the isle yelling "I've got a bomb".

But I don't see that it is so clear that "no other result could really be expected". We'd see a lot more people shot if that were the case.

Really? How often do you think someone yells "I've got a bomb in my bag" on an international flight? Do you think we'd hear about it? There is a difference between acting odd, and saying "I've got a bomb in my bag". Can you not see that?
posted by SweetJesus at 8:08 AM on December 8, 2005


according to the latest news from cnn, it's not entirely clear that the man said anything about a bomb:

"Accounts vary on whether Alpizar had announced he had a bomb.

Tirpak [a fellow passenger] said he didn't hear Alpizar say anything. "

if anything, this event is starting to look more and more fucked up.
posted by lord_wolf at 8:15 AM on December 8, 2005


I checked the NY Times, the Washington Post and CNN.com, and none of their stories quotes any passngers as saying that Alpizar said anything about a bomb. Only federal air marshals are quoted as maknig that claim.
posted by Eyebeams at 8:15 AM on December 8, 2005


Given that they say he was yelling it as he made his way up the aisle, I find this worrying.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:21 AM on December 8, 2005


Given that they say he was yelling it as he made his way up the aisle, I find this worrying.

Yeah. If the "running up and down the aisles shouting "I have a bomb" scenario is a lie, it was an incredibly stupid one, since it's so easily falsifiable by the eyewitness testimony of the other passengers on the plane.

If it is a lie, I predict the reported details of the story will soon change from "he was running up and down the aisles shouting 'I have a bomb'" to "he muttered 'I have a bomb' at one point."
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 8:36 AM on December 8, 2005


Even the feds' claim is hedged:

Before he ran off the plane he "uttered threatening words that included a sentence to the effect that he had a bomb," said James E. Bauer, agent in charge of the Federal Air Marshal Service field office in Miami.

Hmm. They don't even say that the word "bomb" was used.

Well, eventually we'll find out exactly what his words were. Hopefully.
posted by Eyebeams at 8:48 AM on December 8, 2005


don't hold your breath, eyebeam.

"Sentence to the effect that he had a bomb" is just like "weapons of mass destruction related program activities": a severe weakening of earlier statements from Men in Power who assured us they were presenting All of the Facts, nearly laughable to most but solid as bedrock for the faithful.

however the story changes, there'll still be enough wiggle room in it for the "regrettable but necessary" crowd to continue to have unwavering faith in figures of authority.
posted by lord_wolf at 9:02 AM on December 8, 2005


The man was a crazy man.

No one gives a flying fuck what happens to a crazy man.

That's why we closed down all the institutions that cared for them. That's why they live on the street. That's why videos like "Bumfights" sell millions.

Nothing will come of this.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:50 AM on December 8, 2005


Considering some people in this thread still claim that Jean Charles de Menezes was "running from police" then I believe the "he said he had a bomb" meme is going to take a lot to remove from the public consciousness.

This is why people are bringing up the JCM case, as it is a classic example of Law Enforcement policy of getting a favourable story out there before the facts can emerge.

The effectiveness of this tactic can be seen all through this thread.
posted by fullerine at 10:04 AM on December 8, 2005


I remember only one person in this thread saying the JCM was running from police.
posted by Eyebeams at 10:21 AM on December 8, 2005


*that JCM was running from police.
posted by Eyebeams at 10:21 AM on December 8, 2005


SweetJesus: no it doesn't fucking happen "all the fucking time" that in-order to bring as much coverage as possible to your cause, you set off the bomb when there are cameras running, parked on the tarmac, which is what I was referring to as "silly". Just so it's clearer. Hostage taking and hijacking are NOT even remotely related to this.

it's not entirely clear that the man said anything about a bomb

I am having a deja vu...
posted by funambulist at 10:34 AM on December 8, 2005


Dave Adams, a spokesman for the Federal Air Marshal Service, said Alpizar had run up and down the plane's aisle yelling, "I have a bomb in my bag."

Yet no passenger has yet come forward who heard the yelling, and two passengers (Alan Tirpak and Mike Beshears) report that he (Alpizar) didn't say anything.
posted by Eyebeams at 10:48 AM on December 8, 2005




well it's good to see the average ABC news site's visitors are withholding their opinions until the facts are in and weren't unduly influenced by the lack of nuance in the early coverage of this story...
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 11:22 AM on December 8, 2005


"Lack of nuance" sounds like a polite euphemism. ;-)
posted by Eyebeams at 11:48 AM on December 8, 2005


also check out this story from another eyewitness:

""I never heard the word 'bomb' on the plane," McAlhany told TIME in a telephone interview. "I never heard the word bomb until the FBI asked me did you hear the word bomb. That is ridiculous." Even the authorities didn't come out and say bomb, McAlhany says. "They asked, 'Did you hear anything about the b-word?'" he says. "That's what they called it."
posted by lord_wolf at 11:50 AM on December 8, 2005


"They asked, 'Did you hear anything about the b-word?'" he says. "That's what they called it."

Well that's because they were still at the airport, silly. If the authorities actually used the word "bomb," they'd have to have shot one another!

Now everyone just calm down.

The authorities will tell you what you need to think. You can will trust the authorities.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:54 AM on December 8, 2005


SweetJesus: no it doesn't fucking happen "all the fucking time" that in-order to bring as much coverage as possible to your cause, you set off the bomb when there are cameras running, parked on the tarmac, which is what I was referring to as "silly". Just so it's clearer. Hostage taking and hijacking are NOT even remotely related to this.

Just so it's crystal - someone asked me why a terrorist would wait till he (she/they) were on the ground before announcing they have a bomb, instead of blowing it up in mid-flight. I explained that because they want to draw media attention to their cause, they'll announce their intentions when the plane has landed, and the media can get access to it. That's what happens often enough, such as in Colombia where hijackings and hostage taking are much more common, not the actual "destruction" of the plane.

And, as an aside, if a man claims to have a bomb on board, how the hell do you know whether or not he intends to a) blow up the plane, b) use the passengers as hostages or c) use the plane as a means of getting to another country. You have no idea of what he intends to do, so hijacking and hostage taking are closely related to the act of bringing (or claiming to have) a bomb aboard an aircraft.
posted by SweetJesus at 12:40 PM on December 8, 2005


That Time article i very enlightening. In the cnn.com article, there's this:

"One law enforcement source said the backpack had drawn attention, because Alpizar wore it over his chest, not his back."

In the Time article, we learn that he wore a fannypack in front. Cripes, I've done that.
posted by Eyebeams at 1:53 PM on December 8, 2005


So it looks like this was a actually domestic flight then? Therefore the Air Marshals would have had no idea that he had cleared customs.

That's from the CNN link in the FPP, and I have seen that repeated in just about every story I have seen on this. It was an international flight with a stopover in Miami. The passengers have to get off and go through customs before reboarding the same plane to continue on to other destinations. Additionally, he would have had to go through all the usual security checkpoints to get on the plane at the originating airport as well. So somehow, he would have had to acquire a bomb while on the plane or in the customs area in Miami or the checkpoints would have had to suck so badly that they missed a bomb in a fanny pack and back pack more than once. Additionally, I am guessing here, these same air marshals were with that plane from the beginning of it's flight, so they would have some idea about what the passengers had been through or not as far as customs/security checks. Being "undercover", air marshals go through all the same procedures that the passengers do, so no one will know they aren't just regular passengers (at least that is my understanding from having a conversation with someone who used to have that job).

Also, the Times article linked and quoted above seems to be a lucid eyewitness report from someone who was intensely watching the activities to prepare himself for evasive action, and might be more reliable than your average not-paying-attention-but-just-panicking passenger.

I am left with the feeling that many here don't trust airport security or customs to be able to find a bomb in a small bag, so why bother with all the hassle at all if it isn't working? I'll tell you that every time I got to an airport with my battered carry-on bag, I was hassled endlessly for my blow dryer, because they always think it's a bomb due to the coiled wires inside it ... and that was before 9/11.

In the Time article, we learn that he wore a fannypack in front. Cripes, I've done that.

Especially if you have just been sitting down on a plane as he had.
posted by Orb at 2:04 PM on December 8, 2005


t's not entirely clear that the man said anything about a bomb

I am having a deja vu...

me too, funambulist, me too... the DeMenezes thing did teach me to not take self-serving/ass-saving official pronouncements so blithely.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 2:28 PM on December 8, 2005


SweetJesus, as long as you are 100% sure that this man claimed to have a bomb on board and that there was nothing else to do but shoot him, then, hey, everything is fine.

Oh I swear I don't even know why people are making such a fuss about what exactly he shouted or did, I mean, whatever he shouted, whatever backpack or fannypack he was wearing, whatever he did or didn't do, the relevant issue is that he still could have been a terrorist, and the fact he got shot proves that suspicion was there, which in turn proves that the shooting was justified.

Am I right or am I right?
posted by funambulist at 3:08 PM on December 8, 2005


he would have had to go through all the usual security checkpoints to get on the plane at the originating airport as well

BTW -- Alpizar and his wife were not on Flight 492 when it originated in Colombia, but "had arrived in Miami on a flight from Ecuador." They boarded the Miami leg of the flight to return to their home outside of Orlando.
posted by ericb at 3:11 PM on December 8, 2005


*Flight 924*
posted by ericb at 3:13 PM on December 8, 2005


the fact he got shot proves that suspicion was there, which in turn proves that the shooting was justified.

Um... what?
posted by mazola at 3:19 PM on December 8, 2005


mazola, here's a hint: that was sarcasm, which I assumed was self-evident...
posted by funambulist at 3:26 PM on December 8, 2005


This sounds like de Menezes all over again. We'll soon learn that nobody heard anything about a bomb.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:05 PM on December 8, 2005


So, just what is the air marshall's running total for "saves"? All these hours in the air, on the tarmac...have they caught any actual turrists yet, or have they only detained, tackled and/or shot darkies, towel-heads and crazies?
posted by HyperBlue at 5:38 PM on December 8, 2005


...
Now I know that the marshalls are taught to shoot first and ask questions later and all that, so no lectures please. But I still find it amazing that after all this time, they automatically assume that a group of people could get a bomb and "cell phone guns" through the gate security in a US airport. Goes to show you how useful all that boarding gate crap really is, doesn't it? ...

posted by amberglow at 6:54 PM on December 8, 2005


amberglow, Bureaucrat Man has gotta do what he's gotta do to Cover His Ass.

If somebody brings a gun thru security, then Bureaucrat Man's Ass is grass.

Inside jobs are another avenue to get weapons past security, so the check kabuki show is only good for so much.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 9:25 PM on December 8, 2005


This guy lived right across the street from where I grew up. Our next-door neighbor, Lou Gunther, said he didn't notice anything unusual about the guy at all and hadn't suspected any kind of mental instability or anything.
posted by Poagao at 10:44 PM on December 8, 2005


Passengers say Alpizar never said "Bomb"
posted by fandango_matt at 8:29 AM on December 9, 2005


Shoe Bomber Alert Preceded Airport Shooting.
posted by ericb at 11:30 AM on December 9, 2005


from fandango_matt's link: David Stempler, president of the Air Travelers Association, said he thinks the shooting may prove more "reassuring than disturbing" to the traveling public his organization represents. "This is a reminder they are there and are protecting the passengers and that it is a seriously deadly business," he said

Good thing it happened, then...

In other news: Independent Police Complaints Commission says officers involved in the fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes on the Tube are likely to face charges... but police commissioner Sir Ian Blair was not among the police officers interviewed for the investigation. The Conservatives criticised the decision not to interview him as "inexplicable". "The last thing anyone wants is to encourage conspiracy theories about a cover-up."
posted by funambulist at 11:39 AM on December 9, 2005


Well. At least the chronicle has changed the story: "The airline passenger shot to death by federal marshals who said he made a bomb threat ..."

The rest of the media, and popular attention, has moved on to the Chronicles of Narnia.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:18 PM on December 9, 2005


"This is a reminder they are there and are protecting the passengers"

Exactly. The air marshals are protecting the passengers by shooting them before terrorists do!
posted by fandango_matt at 1:34 PM on December 9, 2005


David Stempler, president of the Air Travelers Association, has a seriously fucked-up interpretation of all this.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:41 PM on December 9, 2005


DHS report admits air marshals 'overreacted' in airport shooting
posted by amberglow at 6:25 PM on December 14, 2005


But they don't admit it publicly, and they continue to lie about what happened.

And the man, who was a normal sorta citizen working in Home Depot, married, all that jazz... dead, because hotshot deputies panicked.

Gosh, I wonder why I will never catch a flight that puts me in the USA?
posted by five fresh fish at 8:58 PM on December 14, 2005


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