A federal air marshal on a United Airlines flight was handcuffed by authorities and removed from the plane after a flight attendant thought he was a civilian who “flashed a gun,” according to reports.
The marshal, whom the TSA told The Post was on “official business,” showed his firearm to a flight attendant during the flight from Newark, New Jersey, to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, leading the crew to issue an emergency alert, according to WCCO.
Passengers aboard Flight 3531 were told that their landing was delayed because of an “occupied gate,” passenger Jennifer Berman told the Star Tribune. After landing, the plane was surrounded by police cars, and officers boarded the plane to ask the man and another passenger to “come with them.” The two were handcuffed shortly after on the tarmac, Berman said.
The two men were questioned by the FBI at the airport’s police station, according to the newspaper.
The Star Tribune reported that the second detained passenger was also a federal air marshal; the TSA did not confirm that.
FBI officials blamed the incident on a miscommunication, according to WCCO.
A spokesperson from Republic Airlines, a regional partner of United Airlines which operated the flight, told The Post: “The safety and security of our customers and employees is our top priority. We are aware of this incident and are working with investigators.”
The TSA said in a statement it is “working with the airline to determine the specific circumstances in this case.”
The flight was operated by Indianapolis-based Republic Airline. Republic says the airline is working with investigators.