Law enforcement sources had been on alert for a possible shoe bomber when a federal air marshal killed a passenger in Miami on Wednesday, ABC reported yesterday, as conflicting reports surfaced about the shooting.
Officials told ABC an Egyptian man was stopped at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport a week ago with a pair of shoes that tested positive for an explosive substance. The FBI was notified after he was released, and put out a nationwide alert. FBI officials told ABC yesterday they located the Egyptian man in Iowa and that he is not considered a threat.
Logan International Airport spokesman Phil Orlandela said he was ``not at liberty to comment'' on the shoe incident, but said, ``We are aware of it. They have advised us of it.''
Passenger Rigoberto Alpizar, 44, and his wife boarded the Miami plane Wednesday afternoon. A few minutes before the plane was to pull away, Alpizar bolted up the aisle and onto the jetway, where two air marshals confronted him.
``He was belligerent. He threatened that he had a bomb in his backpack,'' said Brian Doyle, spokesman for the U.S. Homeland Security Department. ``The officers clearly identified themselves and yelled at him to `Get down, get down.' Instead, he made a move toward the backpack.''
But at least one passenger aboard American Airlines Flight 924 told Time magazine the air marshals were too quick on the draw.
``I don't think they needed to use deadly force with the guy,'' John McAlhany, a construction worker from Sebastian, Fla., told Time. ``He was getting off the plane.'' McAlhany also said Alpizar never mentioned having a bomb.
Agents are trained to shoot to stop a threat, and the situation on the jetway appeared to pose one, said John Amat, a deputy with the U.S. Marshals Service in Miami.
Orlandela said Logan increased its state police patrols yesterday. ``They've got more police patrols, including the people with the sub-machine guns,'' he said.
But Logan passengers shrugged off the incident. Asked if she was jittery about flying to Orlando yesterday, passenger Lisa McMorrow, 40, of Boston said, ``No, not at all, I just think that was a freak occurence.'' - HERALD STAFF
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But the report concluded that the air marshals had to act quickly, regardless of whether Alpizar actually had a bomb.
Federal officials say Rigoberto Alpizar made the threat in the jetway, after running up the plane's aisle from his seat at the back of the jetliner.
The father of Rigoberto Alpizar said his 44-year-old son had lived in the United States for 20 years, become a U.S. citizen and married an American woman.