21 April 2009

Airline Hijacking In Jamaica By 20 Year Old

Troops in Jamaica captured an armed man Monday who had barged onto a Canadian airliner, firing a bullet that grazed the co-pilot's face and demanding to be flown off the island, robbed passengers and held six crew members hostage, Jamaica Information Minister Daryl Vaz said.
The hostage crisis that began around 10:20 p.m. Sunday and ended near 6:40 a.m., when members of the Jamaica Defence Force Counter Terrorism Operations Group stormed the aircraft's cabin.

A hostage-taker commandeered a CanJet flight at Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, Jamaica. The crew members were not harmed, Vaz said.

The hijacking suspect, described as a "mentally challenged" man in his 20s, identified as Stephen Fray was in custody. Vaz said he is a "mentally challenged" 20-year-old man from the northwestern resort city of Montego Bay. He did not detail the man's mental condition but said he was apparently upset over a failed relationship. He (Fray) demanded that the Boeing 737 be flown to Cuba. The military captured him around 6:40 a.m. local time.

The FBI helped Jamaican authorities handle the situation at the Jamaican government's request, a U.S. government source told CNN.

The CanJet flight from Halifax, Canada, had made a scheduled landing at Sangster International Airport in the Jamaican resort city of Montego Bay and was scheduled to continue to Santa Clara, Cuba.
(view here if you can't see video)

Six crew members are still being held hostage by a gunman on a plane bound for Canada at Jamaica's Montego Bay airport. The plane's other passengers have been released.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who was in Jamaica, told reporters that he planned to travel to Montego Bay to meet with Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding. Harper has been following the airplane security breach and may meet with the plane's crew later today.
"The hijacking is that from a mentally challenged youngster and not anything that would be of concern in terms of an international incident," Vaz said.

The suspect gained access to the plane Sunday night through the terminal in "a breach of security" that "will be investigated," Deputy Police Commissioner Owen Ellington told CNN. Fray ran through multiple security checkpoints after brandishing a gun and with security officials in chase Fray ran down the jetway and onto the plane.
The gunman fired a shot in the boarding bridge as he entered, said CanJet Airlines Vice President Kent Woodside. No one was hit.
CanJet Flight 918, a Boeing 737-800 aircraft was carrying 174 passengers and eight crew members. All the passengers were Canadian, he said.

The suspect took an undisclosed number of passengers and crew members hostage before releasing all the passengers and two crew members, said Elizabeth Scotton, a spokeswoman for the company that manages the airport.
Two of the six crew members who remained inside the plane Monday locked themselves in the cockpit, Vaz said.

The suspect's father and Golding, who flew in by helicopter, were among those who negotiated with the gunman before his capture and after eight hours of fruitless negotiations, soldiers stormed the plane and arrested the man without further injury, but authorities were deeply embarrassed about the security breach at Montego Bay's airport, a major Caribbean tourist hub.
The country's minister of national security also was at hand. The released passengers were taken to a hotel, and the airport was shut down for a time, Vaz said.
The airport reopened shortly after the standoff, Woodside said. A CanJet airliner was on its way to Jamaica, he said, to take passengers on to Cuba or back to Canada.
Christian Gosselin, a passenger on the flight, told his father that the gunman demanded cash from the plane's occupants. Vaz confirmed the account.

"The guy wanted to have all their money," said Gosselin's father, Alphonse. "He [my son] told his girlfriend to take all the money and just take her passport and credit card and put it in her back pocket."
Christian Gosselin was part of a 25-person wedding party headed to Cuba. He and his girlfriend were released by the hostage-taker, and they spoke to his father in New Brunswick, Canada, while waiting for another flight.
"I didn't ask them too many questions; I was more concerned for their safety," the father said. "They were a bit shaken up. It was quite an experience."

Another passenger, Brenda Grenier, called her husband and said the man apparently got aboard the plane as airport workers were loading bags.
The Crew Names

The crew has been identified as Captain James Murphy from Halifax, first officer Glenn Johnson, from Montreal, flight attendants Nicole Rogers, Halifax, Heidi Tofflemire, Halifax, Anu Goswami, Toronto, Tony Bettencourt, Toronto, Carolina Santizo Arriola, Toronto, and air-care security officer Garry Knickle of Halifax.
The charter airline is owned by Halifax-based IMP Group Ltd., according to CanJet's Web site.

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