Friday, December 09, 2005

Damned if you do, damned if you don't

I posted this over at LA's site, but decided it deserved a slot over here as well. It was prompted by a quote from one of the passengers on the Columbia-to-Florida flight saying that they hadn't heard anyone say anything about a bomb.

From the reports I’ve seen, Rigoberto Alpizar made the bomb comments while on the jetway, not on the airplane. Little wonder the passengers still on the plane didn’t hear anything.

Imagine this alternative version, though:
“The effectiveness of the Air Marshalls program was being called into question today after a disturbed man was allowed to rush up a jetway and into the terminal from an airplane that had just landed from Columbia.

The man forced his way off the plane and ran up the jetway with a backpack, shouting that he had a bomb. Air marshalls drew their weapons and ordered him to stop, but he ignored their commands and ran into the terminal. Hundreds of passengers waiting to board their aircraft panicked and rushed for the exits. Forty-two were injured in the stampede, and two were killed in the crush, including an elderly man and a two-year old.

‘He was wild-eyed and panting,’ said one witness who declined to be identified. ‘I was scared he had a gun or a bomb or something. Everybody just ran.’

Not everybody. Frank Wilson, a retired police officer, tripped and tackled the suspect as he ran past. Wilson tossed the backpack - which did not contain a bomb - to the side as he held the disturbed passenger to the ground.

‘I just reacted, I guess.’ said Wilson. ‘Old habits die hard. You see someone running like that, and, well, I just took him down. I’m not as young as I once was - I’m a little sore, actually.’

A spokesman for the Air Marshalls said, ‘Our agents are trained to carefully evaluate a potential threat in order to avoid over-reacting. In hindsight, the passenger was clearly not a threat, so we’re very gratified the Marshalls on the scene did not open fire.’ Asked about the passengers who were killed and injured by the panic in the terminal, the spokesman said, ‘That’s a very tragic thing, obviously.’”

3 comments:

JCB said...

From the reports I’ve seen, Rigoberto Alpizar made the bomb comments while on the jetway, not on the airplane. Little wonder the passengers still on the plane didn’t hear anything.

Cite your sources. Er, um, wrong language for the blogosphere. Can you link to some of these reports?

If he had a bomb, why would he wait until after the plane had landed and he had de-boarded to announce this? I don't understand.

Also, I dislike your hypothetical scenario. Specifically, I take issue with the last sentence. You can't justify killing an innocent just to prevent possible injuries and maybe even deaths resulting from their own panic. It's misleading and deflects from your credible argument.

JCB said...

Not that I'm conceding the implied argument, mind you, but it's one that could be made... without the presence of that needlessly inflammatory last sentence.

Corrie said...

The first slew of stories that came out had the passenger on the jetway making the comment.

Law enforcement personnel are trained to deal with immediate threats. A person running into a crowded area, refusing to follow instructions to stop, reaching into a bag, is an immediate threat and deadly force is justified.

I'm sorry for Rigoberto and his family, but the air marshalls didn't do anything wrong.