FLINT, Mich. (AP) — A police officer was stabbed in the neck at the Flint airport by a man with a knife Wednesday in what authorities are investigating as a possible act of terrorism.
The suspect was immediately taken into custody, and federal prosecutors hours later announced the Canadian man was charged with committing violence at an airport. They identified him as Amor Ftouhi of Quebec.
The criminal complaint says Ftouhi stabbed Lt. Jeff Neville with a large knife and declared “Allahu akbar,” the Arabic phrase for “God is great.” The FBI, which is leading the investigation, said Ftouhi said something similar to “you have killed people in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and we are all going to die.”
The FBI added in the criminal complaint that Ftouhi asked an officer who subdued him why he didn’t kill him.
Neville was in stable condition after initially being in critical condition.
The attack just before 10 a.m. at Bishop International Airport prompted an evacuation and extra security elsewhere in the Michigan city about 50 miles northwest of Detroit. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said President Donald Trump was briefed on the stabbing.
Michigan State Police Lt. Mike Shaw said “everything is on the table” as far as a motive for the attack. He said the primarily regional airport was “shut down and secure” and that no other threats had been identified.
Witnesses described seeing the suspect led away in handcuffs by police, Neville bleeding and a knife on the ground.
“The cop was on his hands and knees bleeding from his neck,” Ken Brown told The Flint Journal. “I said they need to get him a towel.”
Cherie Carpenter, who was awaiting a flight to Texas to see her new grandchild, told Flint TV station WJRT she saw the attacker being led away in handcuffs. She described the man in custody as appearing “blank, just totally blank.”
Genesee County Commissioner Mark Young, a friend of Neville’s who retired from the Genesee County sheriff’s office in 1997, said Neville left that department two years after him. He said Neville served in various capacities with the sheriff’s office including in the jail, on road patrol and as a court officer. Neville retired from that department as a lieutenant.
Young said he headed to the airport when he learned about the stabbing Wednesday. He said once he got there, he “tried to assess and work with emergency management and emergency response teams from the sheriff’s department, kind of trying to see what was going on.”
“Things were chaotic, but very well organized and under control — how the sheriff’s department was handling things and how Bishop International was handling things,” he said.
A few miles away, officials stationed police officers at Flint City Hall after the incident. Mayor Karen Weaver said in a release the situation was “under control” but that officials sought to take “extra precautions.”