Officer stabbed at Bishop International Airport, FBI says it's terrorism, Canadian charged
Update Thursday, June 22, 10:45 p.m.:
The head of Detroit’s FBI office says investigators have learned how and when Fthoui entered the U.S., but still can’t say why he ended up stabbing a security officer at Flint’s Bishop International Airport Wednesday.
FBI Detroit Special Agent in Charge David Gelios said that Fthoui, a dual Canadian-Tunisian citizen living in Montreal, drove his car into the U.S. legally through Lake Champlain, New York.
Gelios says evidence so far “shows him in Michigan as early as June 18th.” But investigators are still trying to piece together his actions in the days leading up to the June 21st stabbing.
Gelios says Ftouhi purchased the knife used in the attack in the U.S., and also attempted to purchase a gun, but “was unsuccessful in that attempt.” Gelios would not provide further details.
The FBI has called the attack an act of terrorism. But so far, Fthouhi has only been charged with violence at an international airport, which carries a possible 20-year prison term.
Acting Detroit U.S. Attorney Dan Lemish said the investigation is still “very much ongoing,” but added: “I think it is safe to say that there will be additional charges forthcoming against Mr. Ftouhi in the future.”
Lemish didn’t want to speculate on what those charges might be. “We have to make charging decisions based on the evidence,” he said. “But if there is evidence that this was an act of terrorism, there may be terrorism-related charges forthcoming.”
According to the government’s criminal complaint, Ftouhi yelled “Allahu Akbar, pulled out a knife and stabbed the officer in the neck.” The officer, Lt. Jeff Neville, is now hospitalized in stable condition.
But officials repeatedly said they still have no evidence that Ftouhi attack was “part of a wider plot,” or anything tying him to terrorist groups or extremist views. He was “not on the radar” of either the U.S. or Canadian governments.
Canadian law enforcement is assisting the U.S. investigation.
Gelios said Ftouhi seems to have targeted an international airport. But right now, they still have no idea how he ended up in Flint. There’s no evidence he’d been to the state before, and “We have absolutely no indication that he had any association with anyone in the Flint area, or thus far Michigan,” Gelios said.
Officials would not say where Fthoui is currently being held. He has a bond hearing scheduled June 28th in Flint.
Update Thursday, June 22, 11:47 a.m.:
Amor Ftouhi, the 49-year-old Canadian charged with stabbing a security officer, appeared in U.S. District Court Wednesday afternoon.
You can hear the audio of that hearing below:
Ftouhi lives in Quebec with his wife and three children, and holds dual Canadian and Tunisian citizenship. Officials in both of those countries have been notified of Ftouhi's arrest.
A detention hearing for Ftouhi will be held next Wednesday, June 28. A preliminary hearing will be scheduled at that time.
Update Wednesday, June 21, 5:34 p.m.
US DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE RELEASES FOLLOWING STATEMENT:
Canadian Man Arrested for Committing an Act of Violence at Bishop International Airport in Flint, Michigan
A 49-year old man from Quebec, Canada, was arrested this morning on charges of committing an act of violence at an airport, announced Acting United States Attorney Daniel Lemisch.
Lemisch was joined in the announcement by David P. Gelios, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Arrested was Amor M. Ftouhi. Mr. Ftouhi will be making an initial appearance in federal court in Flint today.
According to the criminal complaint, Mr. Ftouhi walked up to the victim, who is a lieutenant with the Bishop Airport Authority and was in full uniform, and stabbed the police officer in the neck with a knife. As he did so, Ftouhi referenced killings in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and yelled “Allahu Akbar.”
The charges carry a statutory maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison. Any sentence would ultimately be imposed under the United States Sentence Guidelines according to the nature of the offense and the criminal background, if any, of the defendant.
A complaint is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt.
The FBI has confirmed the attack at Bishop Airport today was an act of terrorism. Federal prosecutors have charged a Canadian man in the stabbing of the airport officer.
Airport police officer undergoes surgery
A Michigan county commissioner says an airport police officer has undergone surgery after being stabbed in the neck.
Genesee County Commissioner Mark Young says he spoke with Lt. Jeff Neville's family at a hospital after the Wednesday morning attack at Bishop International Airport in Flint. Neville's condition was upgraded from critical to stable.
Michigan Radio reporter Steve Carmody is at the airport and says the airport is open again. People with luggage are heading back into the airport and emergency vehicles are leaving.
Update 3:53 p.m.
President briefed on incident
The White House says President Donald Trump has been briefed on the stabbing of an officer at the Flint, Michigan, airport.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer says Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert briefed Trump on Wednesday regarding the stabbing.
Law enforcement officials have said the FBI is looking at terrorism as one possible motive among others in the assault at Bishop International Airport.
Update 2:17 p.m.
"Too early to determine ... whether or not this was an act of terrorism."
The FBI just released the following statement regarding the attack on Bishop International Airport:
This morning, law enforcement officers from a number of organizations including the FBI’s office in Flint, Mich., responded to Flint’s Bishop International Airport after receiving the report of a stabbing of an airport police officer who is presently considered to be in stable condition.
The suspect was taken into custody at the airport and is currently being questioned by law enforcement officers.
The FBI, with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners, is jointly investigating this incident to determine the nature and motive for the attack. We are aware of reports that the attacker made statements immediately prior to or while attacking the officer, but it is too early to determine the nature of these alleged statements or whether or not this was an act of terrorism.
Based on the information that we have at this time, we believe this to be an isolated incident. We currently have no specific, credible information that there is a threat to the Flint community.
If you have any information about this incident, please call the FBI’s Detroit Field Office at 313-965-2323 or at tips.fbi.gov.
The Michigan State Police confirmed the officer's name as Lt. Jeff Neville. They say he's in stable condition.
According to his Linked In profile, Neville has been an officer at Bishop International Aiport since 2001 and is "responsible for supervising the day to day law enforcement operations at the airport."
Update 12:38 p.m.
Taking precautions at Flint City Hall
Flint officials say they have stationed police officers around City Hall out of caution after an officer was critically hurt at the city's airport a few miles away.
Mayor Karen Weaver said in a release Wednesday "the situation is under control" but officials sought to take "extra precautions" in light of the Wednesday morning incident at Bishop International Airport. The municipal building remains open.
Witnesses describe seeing a man led away in handcuffs by police and the airport officer bleeding from his neck. Authorities have said the officer is in critical condition.
Original Post 11:56 a.m.
Officials at the Bishop International Airport in Flint say the airport has been evacuated after a police officer was injured. WDIV reports the incident took place just before 10 a.m. inside the terminal at the airport.
Reports indicate the officer was stabbed in the neck. The Associated Press reports that the officer is in critical condition:
Michigan State Police said the officer was critically hurt Wednesday morning at Bishop International Airport. Airport officials posted on Facebook that the officer was hurt but offered no further details about the incident.
Dominc Adams of the Flint Journal reports a witness tells them that the officer was bleeding from his neck.
"The cop was on his hands and knees bleeding from his neck," said Ken Brown, who was dropping his daughter off at the airport. "I said they need to get him a towel."
The witness also saw a man detained by police and a knife on the ground.
The FBI is now leading the investigation.
Governor Snyder tweeted about the incident at 11:38 this morning:
As we wait to learn more about the incident at Bishop Airport, please keep the attacked officer in your thoughts & prayers.— Rick Snyder (@onetoughnerd) June 21, 2017
This story is unfolding. Our post will be updated as new information is learned.....
*Correction - An earlier version of the story identified updates from the "Flint Police" Facebook page. The "Flint Police Operations" page does not come from the Flint Police, rather a volunteer organization of emergency responders. We removed references to that page.