The FBI is investigating the stabbing of a police officer at Flint, Michigan‘s Bishop Airport as a ‘possible act of terror,’ according to reports.
A Canadian man yelling ‘Allahu Akbar’ repeatedly stabbed the officer including in the neck at the airport on Wednesday morning, witnesses told NBC News.
The saying means ‘God is great’ in Arabic, and is often shouted by Islamic terrorists before attacks or suicide bombings.
The police officer involved in the incident has been identified as Lieutenant Jeff Neville.
Neville was at his post at the top of a set of escalators at the airport Wednesday morning when he was attacked from behind with a knife similar to a Bowie knife, WJRT reports.
The officer was rushed to the hospital in critical condition, but his condition has since improved to stable after coming out of surgery.
Police say a suspect has been taken into custody and is being question. They have not released his name.
The FBI is reportedly investigating the stabbing as a ‘possible act of terror’. Above, the airport on Wednesday
Witnesses said that the weapon that the attacker used was similar to a Bowie knife, like the one above
The airport was evacuated after the stabbing Wednesday morning. Above, evacuees rest near a concrete barrier
Police took the suspect into custody, but have not yet released his identity. Above law enforcement at the scene on Wednesday
Police dogs search cars in a parking lot at Bishop International Airport, Wednesday morning, June 21, 2017, in Flint, Michigan
Michigan State Police Lt. Mike Shaw said nobody else is believed to have been involved.
Shaw says ‘everything is on the table’ as far as motive is concerned but cautioned against jumping to conclusions.
A witness at the airport told MLive that he saw the cop on his knees, bleeding form the neck.
‘The cop was on his hands and knees bleeding from his neck,’ said Ken Brown. ‘I said they need to get him a towel.’
Brown, who was dropping his daughter off at the airport at the time, said he also saw a man being detained not far from a dropped knife.
Another witness told WJRT that the knifeman’s face was ‘totally blank’ as he carried out the attack.
A witness at the airport told MLive that he saw the cop on his knees, bleeding form the neck. Above, officers at the airport on Wednesday
Neville has worked as an officer at the airport since 2001. He is currently second in command with the airport police.
Before joining the airport, he worked for two decades at the Genessee Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Robert Pickell toldWJRT that Neville was an ‘amazing deputy’.
The airport is closed until further notice while the FBI investigates.
The FBI has remained tight-lipped on what happened at the airport, only releasing a brief statement this afternoon.
‘The FBI, with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners, is jointly investigating this incident to determine the nature and motive for the attack.
‘We are aware of reports that the attacker made statements immediately prior to or while attacking the officer, but it is too early to determine the nature of these alleged statements or whether or not this was an act of terrorism,’ an FBI spokesman said.
However, a law enforcement official says the FBI is indeed looking at terrorism as a possible motive.
The official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the individual wasn’t able to publicly discuss it says the investigation of the Wednesday morning assault at Bishop International Airport is in its early stages.
A second law enforcement official also speaking on condition of anonymity says authorities were investigating witness reports the suspect made during the incident, including saying ‘Allahu akbar’.
Airport officials wrote on Facebook just before 10am that all passengers are safe and were being evacuated. They said anyone flying in or out of the airport should stay tuned to their Facebook page for news about when they will be reopening.
At one point more than 100 people were standing on the sidewalk outside of the airport.
Other passengers were seen sitting down near a concrete barrier outside the airport.
Out of an abundance of caution, the Flint City Hall is also operating under heightened security, with police officers stationed around the building.
‘Right now we are still awaiting more information about the situation at Bishop Airport this morning,’ Flint Mayor Karen Weaver said. ‘My thoughts and prayers are with all of our law enforcement officers who work to service and protect us each and every day. I want the public to know that several agencies are involved and working to ensure the situation is under control. However, at this time we are taking extra precautions just to be safe.’
The White House said Wednesday afternoon that President Trump has been briefed on the incident.
Flint has gained national attention in recent years for its water crisis. It’s estimated that 100,000 residents were exposed to high levels of lead in the local water supply. While the water quality returned to an acceptable level earlier this year, residents are continuing to use bottled water until the city replaces its lead pipes.