Man Shot By Federal Air Marshal

By: Michael Gorsegner
By: Michael Gorsegner

December 7, 2005

Federal officials continue to try to piece together today's events that led to the shooting of a man on board a plane.

Just moments before American Airlines Flight 924 was set to take off from Miami International Airport, gunshots rang out.

"She heard three gunshots and then everyone was running. Everybody was going crazy. They got up and starting running," said Miriam Delgado.

"At first people didn't realize what was going on because there was just one guy and then more starting coming. People starting yelling that there were guns and then people freaked out they ran out," said one eyewitness.

Forty-four-year-old Rigoberto Alpizar was on board the plane bound for Orlando when he began to act suspicious. Federal Air Marshals confronted the man as he tried to exit the boarding plane.

"At some point, he uttered threatening words that included a sentence to the affect that he had a bomb," said Jim Bauer from the Federal Air Marshals' Service.

Marshals demanded the man get on the ground. When he did not comply and moved toward his bag, one of the officers fired, killing him. After the shooting, the FBI removed all of the luggage from the plane, testing for explosives. The search came up empty. At this time, the FBI does not think this was related to any kind of terrorism.

"We are looking at this incident to see if there is a nexis to terrorism and the incident," said Andy Appolony from the FBI.

Passengers on board say while the shooting was scary, things could have been much more dangerous.

"It was pretty scary. Imagine, I was on the flight. It could have happened in mid air," said John Rodriguez.

Federal investigators are still trying to piece together why the man made the threat. At the time of the shooting, his wife was on board the plane, and claimed that he suffered from bi-polar disorder and had not taken his medication. The concourse the shooting took place at was shut down for over an hour.

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