KETTERING — A mistake made by TSA agents led to a man taking two box cutters onto a plane out of Cincinnati.
News Center 7′s Molly Koweek spoke with a Kettering man who stepped up.
Larry Cumberbatch joined the military over two decades ago and had the training and bravery to help in a dangerous situation.
Cumberbatch said he watched a woman walk up to the flight attendant and knew something was wrong
“It looked and he had a box knife with the blade still in it,” is what the woman, Lillian Hoffman, told WCPO about the man sitting next to her.
Hoffman said the man ended up telling someone he wanted to stab people.
The pilots diverted the plane to Atlanta.
The flight attendant asked Cumberbatch and the veteran sitting next to him for help.
“I didn’t feel alarmed at all,” Cumberbatch said.
Instead, he said he felt ready. He joined the navy in 2000 which helped him prepare for this moment.
“The 9/11 attacks happened while I was in sea school, and that really made an impact on me, and so I think that had a role in how I responded on the plane,” Cumberbatch said.
He said he walked over to the man with the box cutters and talked to him.
The man then got up and went to the back of the plane. Cumberbatch kept watch on him, keeping an eye out for any weapons.
“If he had it out, I was going to take him out right then,” he recalled.
The plane landed in Atlanta and all but a few passengers including Cumberbatch got off.
He said he was two people behind the man with the box cutters when the man pulled out one and lunged toward a flight attendant he was taken down.
“When he grabbed him and they fell on the ground, I went over them to see what was going on to see where I could put my hands, or if he’s doing anything, to try to assess everything,” Cumberbatch said.
That’s when police stepped on the plane and took over.
The next day, Cumberbatch took a much less eventful flight to visit his other son in Florida.
Since then, he has had a few days to reflect.
“You never know what you have inside of you until you encounter the situation, just believe that you can make it through and you have the strength inside, and you’re not by yourself,” he said.
TSA admitted that agents did not follow protocol Friday when they discovered the box cutter in the man’s carry-on — they missed the second one completely.
TSA said they scanned both pieces of his luggage but did not use the technology to its fullest capabilities.
The agents involved are now going through extra training.
Police nor TSA have officially released the identity of the passenger.
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