David Bayle and his wife, Courtney, had just checked in their bags for a flight to California when they heard a loud scream at the top of the escalator. Mr. Bayle said he looked up and saw Lieutenant Neville grabbing the left arm of Mr. Ftouhi and then his waist to detain him.
“It sounded like a howling dog,” said Mr. Bayle, 32, who was visiting family near Flint with their 1-year-old daughter. “We thought it was an unruly passenger, but then I saw the knife.”
As Lieutenant Neville was grabbing Mr. Ftouhi, Mr. Bayle said he could see a long serrated knife in the attacker’s right hand. “It looked like a knife that Rambo would use,” he said.
A group of people ran over to help the officer, who was then on the ground on his hands and knees, Mr. Bayle said. Blood was flowing out of the right side of his neck and onto his uniform and arms.
After being subdued, Mr. Ftouhi asked Lieutenant Neville why he had not killed him, according to court records. The authorities said they believed that the man had acted alone and that they had no indication that he had been trained by any terrorist group.
“Suffice it to say, he has a hatred for the United States and a variety of other things that in part motivated him to come to the airport today and conduct this act of violence,” Mr. Gelios said.
The authorities said that Mr. Ftouhi had legally entered the United States on Friday at Lake Champlain before making his way to Flint. He arrived at the airport Wednesday morning, Mr. Gelios said. Mr. Ftouhi entered on the first level around 8:52 a.m. with a duffel bag and satchel, law enforcement officials said. About 20 minutes later, he rode up an escalator and spent several minutes in a restaurant, the officials said.
He then left the restaurant and entered a bathroom with his baggage, Mr. Gelios said. He dropped both bags before emerging and stabbing Lieutenant Neville in the neck, Mr. Gelios said.
People arrived almost immediately to help subdue the suspect, officials said. “There were some acts of heroism here because if he had been able to get free and attack other people, we would be talking about much greater harm today,” said Christopher Miller, director of public safety at Bishop International Airport.
Mr. Fhouti made his first appearance in federal court on Wednesday night, wearing an orange jail uniform and a face mask because he had spat on a United States marshal, The Flint Journal reported. The judge, Stephanie Dawkins Davis of the Eastern District of Michigan, ordered him held without bail. He could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the crime, though additional charges could arise, Mr. Gelios said. The authorities said they interviewed Mr. Ftouhi at length.
On Wednesday evening, local news reports said that the police were conducting a raid on an apartment building in the St.-Michel neighborhood of Montreal in connection with the attack in Flint. A resident described the neighborhood as having a mix of people of different ethnicities.
Lieutenant Neville is among the highest-ranking officers in Bishop International Airport’s Police Department, which is made up of six full-time and six part-time employees. Before he joined the airport police force in 2001, he spent 17 years in the Genesee County Sheriff Department in Michigan.
In a statement on Wednesday night, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said: “I want to assure all our law enforcement across the nation, any attack on someone who serves and protects our citizens will be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I am proud of the swift response from the F.B.I. and our federal prosecutors and their partnership with local police and the Canadian authorities. Our prayers are with the officer and his family for a full recovery.”
Canadian law enforcement officials condemned the “heinous and cowardly attack” and pledged cooperation with their counterparts in the United States.
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