Man accused in airport stabbing to remain detained

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

Flint — A man accused of stabbing a Bishop International Airport police officer consented to detention at a hearing Wednesday morning.

Defendant Amor M. Ftouhi, wearing a medical mask, stands with his court-appointed attorney Joan Morgan during his hearing Wednesday.

Amor M. Ftouhi, a 49-year-old Tunisian national living in Montreal, is being held in federal custody on a charge of violence at an international airport, a 20-year felony.

During a court hearing that lasted less than five minutes, Ftouhi consented to detention Wednesday before U.S Magistrate Judge Stephanie Dawkins Davis. Ftouhi appeared wearing medical mask across his mouth.

“Yes, I do (consent to detention),” Ftouhi told Davis.

Ftouhi already has an immigration hold, meaning he would not be released in the event of a bond being granted, according to his public defender, Joan Morgan.

The court on Wednesday scheduled a July 5 preliminary examination in Flint for Ftouhi, who was wearing the mask for unspecified health reasons, court officials said.

Before his federal court hearing in Flint last week, Ftouhi allegedly spit on a law enforcement officer before entering court and was required to wear a mask during the initial part of the hearing, authorities say. His federal mug shot shows him in orange jail clothes with a white mask pulled under his chin.

Ftouhi, who used an Arabic interpreter during Wednesday’s hearing, has not been indicted by a grand jury.

If he is indicted before his July 5 appearance, the court hearing would be for an arraignment on the indictment and the matter would go before a federal judge, rather than a magistrate, court official said.

A grand jury is seated in the Eastern District, which covers Flint, but court officials would not comment on whether the body was considering Ftouhi’s case.

Ftouhi is being held at a non-disclosed location by the U.S. Marshal.

Timothy Wiley, FBI public affairs specialist, holds a photo Amor Ftouhi after a news conference in Detroit, June 22, 2017.

Ftouhi is accused of stabbing Lt. Jeff Neville, an airport police officer, with a 12-inch knife. Neville was released from the hospital on Monday and plans to return to work once he is medically cleared, airport officials said.

Federal authorities investigating the June 21 attack believe Ftouhi acted alone. They said he “wanted to identify” an international airport for his attack but declined to say further why he picked Flint.

A witness told the FBI that Ftouhi walked up to Neville in the airport and yelled “Allahu Akbar,” pulled out a knife and stabbed him in the neck.

Ftouhi “further exclaimed something similar to, ‘you have killed people in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, and we are all going to die,’” according to an FBI statement in the case.

Another police officer subdued Ftouhi who allegedly turned and asked him why he did not kill him, according to a criminal complaint in the case.

Authorities believe Ftouhi traveled to the United States legally from Canada on June 16, entering through Lake Champlain, New York, and then entered Michigan as early as June 18.

Ftouhi had no travel documents to suggest he was planning travel to and from Flint, the FBI has said.

Ftouhi unsuccessfully attempted to buy a gun in the United States and additional charges are likely, federal law enforcement officials said last week.

Fluent in French, Ftouhi is a married father of three who worked as a trucker until two weeks ago and called Canada his home the last 10 years.

Ftouhi, whose Facebook page states he is a 2009 graduate of O’Sullivan College of Quebec, also was a part-time caretaker at a Montreal apartment building where he lived and had once studied to sell insurance, people who knew him said.

Ftouhi has lived there with his wife and children.