A 16-year-old boy is being held by authorities in New Orleans, Louisiana following an apparent attempt to hijack an airliner Wednesday night (17 November).
A 16-year-old boy is being held by authorities in New Orleans, Louisiana following an apparent attempt to hijack an airliner Wednesday night (17 November). According to witnesses, the youth was subdued by a passenger on the plane after firing six wild shots through its floor that he wanted to free Cuban political refugees.
Passengers on the plane and officials told this story: 16-year-old Thomas Robinson, an honour student, went to New Orleans from his home in Brownsville, Texas after school on Wednesday. There he boarded a National Airlines DC-8 jetliner. A few minutes after take-off, he walked into the first-class compartment with a pistol concealed under a newspaper. Christopher Kraft, the mission director of the Manned Space Flight Center and a passenger on the plane, asked Robinson what was under the newspaper. Robinson produced a gun and attempted to shoot Mr. Kraft. The gun did not go off. Then we walked up to the pilot's compartment and tried to get in, but the plane's stewardess told him it was "off limits". He shouted that he wanted to capture the plane, take it to Cuba, and bring out political refugees. Robinson then walked back down aisle and stopped beside a Houston businessmen, Edward Haake. He pulled out a second pistol and fired six shots through the floor of the plane.
When Robinson reached into his pockets to reload, Mr. Haake subdued him.
The plane turned back to New Orleans where the youth was taken before a U.S. commissioner and held in 50 thousand dollars bond. His parents said the youth had no prior record of erratic behaviour, and they were at a loss to explain his action. There were 91 people on the airliner when the incident occurred.