The Air Marshal Did The Right Thing

“An agitated passenger who claimed to have a bomb in his backpack was shot and killed by a federal air marshal Wednesday after he bolted frantically from a jetliner that was about to take off, officials said. No bomb was found.

The man, identified as Rigoberto Alpizar, a 44-year-old U.S. citizen, was gunned down on a jetway just before the American Airlines plane was about to leave for Orlando, near his home in Maitland.

It was the first time since the Sept. 11 attacks that an air marshal had shot at anyone, Homeland Security Department spokesman Brian Doyle said.

According to a witness, the man frantically ran down the aisle of the Boeing 757, flailing his arms, while his wife tried to explain that he was mentally ill and had not taken his medication.

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The passenger indicated there was a bomb in his bag and was confronted by air marshals but ran off the aircraft, Doyle said. The marshals went after him and ordered him to get down on the ground, but he did not comply and was shot when he apparently reached into the bag, Doyle said.

…Mary Gardner, a passenger aboard the Orlando-bound flight, told WTVJ-TV in Miami that the man ran down the aisle from the rear of the plane. “He was frantic, his arms flailing in the air,” she said. She said a woman followed, shouting, “My husband! My husband!”

Gardner said she heard the woman say her husband was bipolar — a mental illness also known as manic-depression — and had not had his medication.”

Assuming everything in this initial report is accurate, it sounds like a tragic, but righteous shooting by the air marshal.

In fact, since we’re talking about a man with a backpack, claiming to have a bomb, on a plane full of passengers, the Air Marshals would have been completely justified in killing him before he even had time to get off the plane. But, perhaps they figured he was moving away from the plane and it was better to get him away from the passengers, rather than risk an accidental detonation near those civilians.

As far as his wife saying he was bipolar goes, you simply can’t take her word for it. For all the air marshals knew, she could be Chechen Black Widow trying to trick the marshals into getting closer to him or trying to distract them while he got the bomb ready.

It’s a terrible thing for an innocent man to be gunned down like that in front of his wife, but unfortunately, mentally ill or not, he brought it on himself. You run around an airplane claiming to have a bomb in front of armed air marshals, you’re just asking to get killed as surely as if you jumped in front of an oncoming train.

My sincere condolences go out to the Alpizar family, but it sounds like the air marshal who killed him did the right thing.

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