How did this happen? Police release footage captured during the arrest of a man armed with box cutters on a flight in America


ATLANTA, GA – LET recently brought you the story of how a passenger was able to get onto a Frontier Airlines flight out of Cincinnati, Ohio bound for Tampa. Now, the body camera footage showing the arrest of the passenger after the flight made an abrupt emergency landing in Atlanta has been released.

Flight attendants aboard the Frontier Airlines flight bound for Tampa became aware of an armed passenger when another caught their attention and informed them that the suspect, later identified as Cincinnati resident William Liebisch, admitted to her that he was armed. Worse yet, he allegedly told her that:

“He was going to stab someone on the plane.”

The woman who made the initial report was not the only passenger on the plane that began to notice Liebisch allegedly acting strangely on the flight. Larry Cumberbatch, a U.S. Navy veteran, and another passenger would later tell police they began to suspect something was off after watching him talking to himself and alleging that people were “after him.” Cumberbatch said:

“He [Liebisch] said he wanted to cut somebody. He’s going to; someone was going to get cut on this plane.”

Cumberbatch continued watching as Liebisch got up from his seat and went to the rear of the plane towards the bathroom. Instead of returning to his seat after a few minutes, Cumberbatch alleges he never returned to his seat.

The airline crew determined it was necessary to make an emergency landing and notified air traffic control, who in turn notified the Atlanta Police Department members who were waiting as the plane landed safely. Officers were able to get most of the passengers off the plane before being notified that Liebisch had begun running towards the front of the plane before being tackled by a passenger behind him who held him until officers could safely detain him.

After taking Liebisch into custody, Atlanta officers allegedly located a yellow-handled DeWalt box cutter in his jacket pocket. During a search incident to Liebisch’s arrest, officers alleged they discovered a second box cutter amongst his belongings.

Thankfully, Liebisch was able to be secured before anyone on the flight was injured, but the fact that he was able to board the plane with TSA knowing he had, at minimum, box cutter blades easily accessible, is beyond scary, something noted by flight passenger Tyler Arnet:

“That’s pretty scary the fact that he can get through any TSA with that [box cutter and blades]. I mean, box cutters don’t seem like they’re scary, but I mean, they are a knife, and they can take it out, and it can be pretty terrifying.”

Another passenger reported feeling the same way, commenting that no one should be able to get through TSA security with any type of weapon:

“He [Liebisch] should’ve never got through…That’s very scary.”

TSA released a statement shortly after the incident in which they acknowledged the error that could have well ended badly. They wrote:

“On Friday, November 11, 2022…a male traveler approached the TSA checkpoint…[and] presented two backpacks and submitted additional loose items into a bin for property screening. The property was screened using CT technology which creates a 3-D image…

“The box cutters were not identified by the CT operator, but his property was identified for a further search. During the search, one box cutter was discovered. The visible blades were removed from the box cutter and provided back to the passenger.

“This is contrary to standard operating procedure which requires these items to be placed in checked bags or voluntarily abandoned. The backpack containing the other box cutter, and the remainder of the traveler’s property, was screened for explosives, but the box cutter was not discovered.

“The TSA employees involved in this incident have been placed in a training status for remediation on CT image review and physical search procedures.”

While we all hope a passenger being allowed onto a flight with an edged weapon is hopefully a one-off, WFTS Tampa Bay reached out to TSA which reported no similar incidents at airports throughout the country, but did note that they have seized several firearms specifically in Florida airports. According to WFTS:

“The year-to-date number of 700 guns is already higher than in any previous year. That includes 102 guns at TPA and 17 at St. Pete-Clearwater International. Reportedly, nearly every one of those guns were loaded, and most had ammunition in the chamber.”

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