FBI investigating threat against incoming T.F. Green flight

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — State and federal officials are investigating a threat made to an incoming flight at T.F. Green Airport, while a passenger tells Eyewitness News what happened aboard Southwest flight 4454.

Bill Shander was one of 174 passengers on that flight, which took off from Baltimore and was scheduled to land in Warwick at 12 a.m. He says crews did not tell the passengers what was going on as they waited on the tarmac for an hour.

“We were like…there’s 22 gates at this airport, how is there not one for us?” he said.

Shander says the first he heard of the threat was on the news, not on the plane. Patti Goldstein, the Vice President of Public Affairs at T.F. Green, said a threat came in over the telephone while the plane was in the air.

“Just as we were about to leave the plane, they told us there was a security issue…vaguely worded…and told us to leave our stuff on the plane,” Shander said. He stayed in a hotel in Providence while waiting for his bags to be ready, since he lives in Hopkinton, Mass. and his car keys were still on the plane.

Eyewitness News reached out to the FBI, and spokesperson Kristen Setera told us investigators cleared the plane and there were no incidents or hazards on board. The investigation into the threat is ongoing.

It was business as usual at the Southwest terminal Tuesday, where passengers reacted to the news of a threat.

“Unfortunately things happen nowadays. I still feel safe to travel, in fact I’m traveling this afternoon,” said Eric Pina of Pawtucket.

“I just don’t like the idea it’s so close to home…it always happens somewhere else,” said Dale Nicholson of Warwick.

Shander is still waiting for more information.

“One of my main concerns is that if there’s a credible, real, urgent threat…why are we waiting on a plane for an hour?”

The FBI is being tight-lipped about those details, declining to reveal the specifics of the threat or who the target was while the threat is still under investigation.

Eyewitness News reached out to Southwest Airlines, which released the following statement Tuesday afternoon.

Out of an abundance of caution, the Captain in command of flight 4454 from Baltimore/Washington to Rhode Island stopped short of the gate after an uneventful landing to allow the authorities at T.F. Green Airport access to the aircraft. We don’t have further details to share except to reiterate that the safe operation of every flight is a shared priority of all agencies and operators involved in commercial aviation. The 174 Customers continued about their evening after the delayed arrival at the terminal.”

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