FLINT, Mich. (AP) — The FBI is looking at terrorism as a possible motive after an officer was stabbed in the neck at the Flint airport, a law enforcement official said after the Wednesday attack that prompted an evacuation and beefed up security elsewhere in the Michigan city.
A second law enforcement official said authorities were investigating witness reports the suspect made during the incident, including saying “Allahu akbar,” the Arabic phrase for “God is great.” Both officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t able to publicly discuss the incident.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said President Donald Trump was briefed on the stabbing by Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert.
Michigan State Police Lt. Mike Shaw said the condition of Bishop International Airport police Lt. Jeff Neville had been upgraded from critical to stable by Wednesday afternoon. Shaw said one person is in custody and nobody else is believed to have been involved.
Shaw said “everything is on the table” as far as motive is concerned but cautioned against jumping to conclusions. The FBI is leading the investigation. The primarily regional airport, which had been evacuated, is “shut down and secure,” Shaw said, and no other threats had been identified.
The FBI, with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners, is jointly investigating this incident to determine the nature and motive for the attack. We are aware of reports that the attacker made statements immediately prior to or while attacking the officer, but it is too early to determine the nature of these alleged statements or whether or not this was an act of terrorism.
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.”
Flint officials said they stationed police officers around City Hall after the incident a few miles away. Mayor Karen Weaver said in a release Wednesday “the situation is under control” but officials sought to take “extra precautions.”
Flint is about 50 miles northwest of Detroit.
Karoub reported from Detroit. Associated Press writers Sadie Gurman in Phoenix, Arizona, and Kenneth Thomas in Washington contributed to this story.