Air Marshal Shoots Man on Miami Airport Plane

Shooting Is Reported on Plane at Miami Airport (AP/NYT)

Shots were fired Wednesday from a federal air marshal’s gun on board an American Airlines jet that had landed at Miami International Airport, an official said. At least one person was wounded, according to broadcast reports. A law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed shots were fired from the marshal’s gun. The plane had just arrived from Colombia and was headed to Orlando, the broadcast reports said. Television images showed police SWAT officers surrounding the plane.

Airport and Miami-Dade County police officials said they had no immediate comment. American Airlines officials had no immediate comment.

I have no idea whether this is at all important but a commenter on a previous post was concerned that I hadn’t written anything about this story, about which I had not until then heard. If this turns out to be interesting and I have time, I’ll write more here.

Update (1519): CNN has emailed me now alerting me to the story, still with few details.

Photo: A federal air marshal shot and wounded a passenger on the Jetway connecting an American Airlines plane to Miami International Airport, sources told CNN. The marshal's action came after threatening action by the passenger, a federal government official said. The Federal Air Marshals Service confirmed a marshal fired his weapon while the Boeing 757 -- which was en route form Medellin, Colombia, to Orlando, Florida -- was on the ground at Miami. A person was shot and wounded on the Jetway to an American Airlines passenger jet that was at the terminal at Miami International Airport, an airline official said. A federal official told CNN that the passenger was shot by a federal air marshal, who felt the passenger was acting in a threatening manner. A senior administration official added that the passenger claimed to have a bomb in his carry-on luggage. An air marshal told the passenger to stop, and he did not, the official said, adding that the marshal fired after the passenger reached into his carry-on bag.

The BREAKING NEWS blurb adds, “A man shot and wounded on a Jetway at Miami International Aiport said he had a bomb, a senior administration official told CNN.”

Update (1551): CNN has now updated:

Federal air marshals shot and killed a man on a boarding bridge at Miami International Airport after he said he had a bomb, two sources familiar with the incident told CNN. Flight 924 was in Miami on a stopover during a flight from Medellin, Colombia, to Orlando, Florida, when the man said there was a bomb in his carry-on luggage, a Department of Homeland Security official said. He was confronted by a team of federal air marshals, who pursued the man down the boarding bridge and ordered him to get on the ground, the official said. When the man appeared to reach into his baggage, at least one shot was fired by the marshals, wounding the man, the official said, adding that marshals’ actions were consistent with their training.

Upon investigation, there was no evidence that the man had a bomb, an official said.

This is the first time an air marshal has fired a weapon on or near an airplane, a federal official said.

If a man claims to have a bomb in his bag, ignores orders from federal officers to freeze, and then reaches into his bag, he deserves to be shot. More importantly, said officers have a duty to shoot to prevent the reasonable likelihood of harm to themselves and others. That there was no bomb is sad but irrelevant.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. spencer says:

    CNBC just reported that there was no bomb.

  2. Fersboo says:

    Said person is no dead, per CNN.

  3. Anderson says:

    Well, if the guy really said he had a bomb and then insisted on reaching into his bag, I guess we could call it “suicide by air marshal.”

    I do however recall the case of the fellow gunned down in the London subway a while back, where it turned out almost none of the justifications for killing him were true. So let’s see how the story develops.

  4. Anderson says:

    The AP has an eyewitness report from Miami TV:

    Passenger Mary Gardner told WTVJ 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 and had not had his medication.

    If that’s how it happened, very sad. But you can’t expect the marshals not to shoot.

  5. Herb says:


    What the hell is your probllem? Don’t you watch the news. The guy said several times that he had a bomb, Why do you suspect that the Air Marshals didn’t use all the proper procedures.

    Or, does your superior intelligence make you think that this a foulup by the Air Marshals.

    “let’s see how the story develops” ?

    Maybe you better let your brain develop a little better and give the Air Marshals credit for stoping what could have been a disaster. I bet is he had a bomb and it was set off killing a bunch of people, You would be the first to raise hell and blame Bush. That’s your style.

  6. Lee says:

    The score for our overtrained overkillers is one Brazilian electrician and one mentally disturbed American missionary. No terrorists.

    Way to go, guys.

  7. Herb says:


    Way to go. I bet you would have prefered for a bomb to explode on the aircraft that would killed a few hundred people.

    Just whose side are you on, Ours or the terrorists?

  8. Alan says:

    > That there was no bomb is sad…

    Sad that there was no bomb?

  9. Anderson says:

    Herb, if you’ll notice, 4 hours before your comment, I quoted and linked to an eyewitness account that appears to confirm the original story.

    The London incident that I alluded to is a reminder that we should wait for stories to pan out before assuming that the official accounts are true.

  10. James Joyner says:

    Alan: Sad that a man got killed who wasn’t posing any danger to anyone. While it doesn’t make the shooting any less justified, it will make it harder for both the air marshal and the family to deal with the incident that he was unarmed.

  11. Alan says:

    > Sad that a man got killed who wasn’t posing any [actual significant] danger to anyone.

    Roger, I agree. A sad situation and outcome. What can you do.