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Airline Passenger Killed by US Air Marshal

A U.S. citizen was shot and killed by federal air marshals at Miami's International Airport on Wednesday. The incident is the first shooting involving the marshals that were put on airplanes after September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

In what law enforcement officials described as an unfortunate event and an isolated incident, a 44-year-old Florida man was killed by air marshals as he boarded a Boeing 757 from Miami to Orlando on Wednesday.

James E. Bauer, special agent in charge of the Federal Air Marshals field office in Miami, said Rigoberto Alpizar, a U.S. citizen, threatened to blow up a bomb in his backpack.

"At some point, he uttered threatening words that included a sense to the effect that he had a bomb. There were federal air marshalls on board the aircraft," said Mr. Bauer. "They came out of their cover, confronted him, and he remained non-complaint with their instructions. As he was attempting to evade them, his actions caused the FAMs [federal air marshals] to fire shots and, in fact, he is deceased."

A passenger on the flight said Mr. Aplizar ran down the aisle of the airplane while his wife explained that he was mentally ill and had not taken his medication.

Federal authorities said they found no evidence of explosives.FBI agent Andy Apollony said investigators were considering whether the threat was terrorism-related.

"Anytime there's an individual that's on a plane or is attempting to board a plane and says he has a bomb, we're going to be interested in that from a terrorism nexus," he said.

Before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon, there were only a few dozen federal air marshals, who flew mostly on international routes. Thousands have since been hired to protect aircraft and their passengers.