Canadian man stabs officer in 'terror attack' at Flint airport, FBI says
Amor Ftouhi yelled 'Allahu Akbar' during attack, FBI says
FLINT, Mich. – A 50-year-old man from Quebec, Canada is accused of stabbing an officer Wednesday in what is being investigated as "an act of terrorism" at the Bishop International Airport in Flint, the FBI said.
FBI agents said Amor M. Ftouhi was arrested after he allegedly stabbed a lieutenant with the Bishop Airport Authority in the neck with a knife.
As he did so, agents said Ftouhi referenced killings in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and yelled, "Allahu Akbar."
The criminal complaint against Ftouhi claims he yelled "Allah" several times after the stabbing.
"He made a statement something to the effect of, 'You've killed people in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan' and we are all going to die," Detroit Special Agent in Charge David Gelios said.
Officers and a maintenance worker who witnessed the attack subdued Ftouhi, who asked why they didn't kill him, officials said.
"There was an unsung hero that saw what happened, and she came to his aid to help," Flint Mayor Karen Weaver said. "Had she not been in the place she was at that time, it could have been worse."
"Lt. Neville never stopped fighting until I handcuffed this person, along with Lt. Neville, Lt. Dan Owens and maintenance person, Richard Cruell," said Chief Chris Miller, of the Bishop International Airport Public Safety Department. "The four of us were able to subdue this person, get him handcuffed and get him under control."
"We were here setting up for a meeting with our public safety partners in our county," Owens said. "I was about 10, 15 feet away when I witnessed the attack. Myself and Chief Miller responded to it fairly quickly. ... He's a good friend of mine. It was very terrifying to see something that quick and luckily we were a very, very close distance to respond."
AMOR FTOUHI: Read more about the suspected attacker here
Gelios said there's no indication that Ftouhi had a conversation with Neville or contact with anyone inside the airport.
Ftouhi used a 12-inch knife with a green handle and a black 8-inch serrated blade, officials said. It was marked Amazon Jungle Survival Knife, officials said. The knife was purchased in the United States, somewhere along the way from New York to Michigan, FBI agents said.
FBI agents revealed Thursday that Ftouhi tried to buy a gun in Mt. Clemens before the attack. He was denied, because he's not a United States citizen.
Ftouhi is charged with committing an act of violence at an international airport, FBI agents said. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
"That is when someone unlawfully uses a device to commit an act of violence at an international airport that could have, or did cause serious injury, which we had in this instance," Gelios said.
Gelios said Ftouhi legally entered the United States in Lake Champlain, New York, on June 16. He made his way to Michigan by at least June 18 and arrived in Flint Wednesday morning at the Bishop International Airport.
"As we progress and take this matter to grand jury for indictment, other charges could be pending later on," Gelios said.
He said there are joint operations going on in Canada. He thanked the FBI's Canadian partners for helping officials investigate the attack.
Ftouhi made an initial appearance in court Wednesday on criminal charges. He is expected to appear at the federal courthouse in Flint at 2:30 p.m. June 28 for a full detention hearing. Ftouhi has not yet been arraigned because he hasn't been indicted, according to the U.S. District Court.
Thursday updates from officials
Flint airport officials and FBI agents provided updates Thursday on the attack during separate press conferences.
You can watch both press conferences in the videos posted below.
'He has a hatred for the United States'
Gelios said Ftouhi has been cooperative in speaking with FBI agents about the attack.
"He has talked to us about what his motivations were," Gelios said. "I think it suffices to say he has a hatred for the United States and a variety of other things."
Gelios said he believes that hatred was what prompted Wednesday's attack, and that there's no information that the stabbing is part of a larger scheme.
There was no indication that Ftouhi had a ticket for any flights at the airport, though the investigation into his bags is ongoing.
Ftouhi spent 45 minutes in airport before attack
Surveillance video shows Ftouhi entering the first level of the Bishop International Airport at 8:52 a.m. carrying a red duffel bag and a dark satchel bag.
At 9:10 a.m., Ftouhi went up an escalator to the second level of the airport. At the top of the escalator, he turned left and went to a restaurant until 9:37 a.m.
After leaving the restaurant, Ftouhi went into a second-floor bathroom and left about 30 seconds later without either of his bags.
Ftouhi attacked the officer moments after leaving the bathroom, around 9:38 a.m.
"Based on the information we have presently, we don't believe anyone was involved with this individual," Gelios said. "We have no information to suggest a wider plot, but it's certainly very, very early in the investigation."
Gelios said Ftouhi never left the public area of the airport, so he didn't have to go through security or pass screening.
FBI agents are seeking search warrants for Ftouhi's electronic devices and car.
"Thank you for your concerns, and we appreciate everybody coming out to be concerned about what happened here," Flint police Chief Timothy Johnson said. "(It's a) tragedy, but thank God that the officer is alive. He's doing well now."
Officer in stable condition
Lt. Jeff Neville was taken to the hospital in critical condition after the stabbing, but he has since been upgraded to stable condition.
"Lt. Neville is in satisfactory condition," Miller said. "As you all heard what happened to him, he's doing fine. He's residing at a local hospital right now. He's resting comfortably. We'd just like to thank everybody who came out to support us here in this trying time.
"Lt. Neville did require some surgery. The surgery didn't take a lot of time. He got through it very well."
Neville is a lieutenant with the Airport Authority. According to his LinkedIn profile, he has worked with the Airport Authority since 2006 and as a police officer at Bishop International Airport since 2001. Before then, Neville worked as a deputy with the Genesee County Sheriff's Department.
"(Neville) is in stable condition and is expected to fully recover," Gelios said. "That's the most blessed thing I think we can say about this today. It's a good outcome."
'It's been a traumatic day for us'
Bishop International Airport Authority Director Craig Williams said it was difficult to maintain normal operations at the airport after the attack.
"It's been a traumatic day for us," Williams said. "One of our own was stabbed, and that...hurts on me personally, and it hurts on our staff."
Williams said even though there were some disruptions during the afternoon, his staff's top priority was safety for workers and visitors inside the airport.
"We're working to get back to normal operations," Williams said.
Attorney general, congressman issue statements
Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued the following statement on the attack:
"I’ve just spoken with officials at the FBI about the attack on a police officer in Flint, Michigan that is being investigated as an act of terrorism. President Trump has prioritized the safety of all law enforcement officers, and this Department of Justice is committed to that goal. I want to assure all our law enforcement across the nation, any attack on someone who serves and protects our citizens will be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I am proud of the swift response from the FBI and our federal prosecutors and their partnership with local police and the Canadian authorities. Our prayers are with the officer and his family for a full recovery."
Congressman Mike Bishop also issued a statement Wednesday evening.
You can read his full statement below.
"Tonight, we in Michigan face the somber reality that our hometown communities are not immune to acts of terror. America must remain vigilant in our fight against a radical ideology of hate and intolerance toward our fellow citizens and our country. My thoughts and prayers are with Lieutenant Jeff Neville and his family this evening."
Flint mayor calls attack 'a tragedy'
"What happened here at the Bishop Airport is just a tragedy," Mayor Karen Weaver said. "I think it's absolutely awful, and that a police officer was injured like this."
Weaver said residents know Flint police officers wake up every morning to protect the city and don't know if they'll return home safe.
She thanked all the local, state and federal agencies that helped with the investigation.
"It showed that we all came together at a time like this," Weaver said. "This is what we need the community to see, is that when these kinds of things happen, we do come together. I hope it gives the people of Flint and the people in the surrounding areas the confidence to know that this was not taken lightly and people came together quickly to make sure we were protected."
Weaver said it was a sad day, but it could have been worse if not for the quick actions by members of law enforcement.
Full update from officials
You can watch the full update from FBI and Flint officials in the video posted below.
Chief Craig describes how police respond to terrorism
Detroit police Chief James Craig talked to Local 4 Defender Karen Drew about how police respond to terrorism.
You can hear the full interview with Craig in the video below.
Gov. Snyder updated on investigation
Michigan State Police Special 1st Lt. David Kaiser said Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder was very involved after the attack.
"Gov. Rick Snyder has been in frequent contact with the Michigan State Police headquarters today inquiring about the status of the injured officer, as well as the status of this investigation," Kaiser said.
Kaiser said the Michigan State Police were "very appreciative" of his interest in the case.
There has been tension between Snyder and the city of Flint amid the ongoing Flint water crisis.
Last week, Nick Lyon became the highest-ranking member of Snyder's administration to be snagged in a criminal investigation of how Flint's water system became poisoned after officials tapped the Flint River in 2014.
Five people were charged June 14 with involuntary manslaughter in the investigation, all blamed in the death of an 85-year-old man who had Legionnaires' disease.
Bishop International Airport was evacuated and closed following the attack. The airport reopened around 4:15 p.m. Wednesday.
"We've had five flights that were impacted," Williams said. "We were able to bring aircraft in and deplane them. But nobody was able to actually take off until approximately 4 o'clock."
Williams said they are experiencing delays as airport operations ramp back up.
The airport released the following statement after the attack.
"The stabbing incident at the airport remains under FBI led investigation. Local, state, and federal agencies are on scene. The airport remains closed until further notice. The police officer assaulted is in stable condition. The suspect is in custody and is currently being questioned."
The Flint City Hall began operating under heightened security in an abundance of caution after the incident.
You can view the full criminal complaint against Ftouhi below.
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