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Man with machete causes security scare at Hopkins

Airport Machete Man.jpg
Posted at 10:58 PM, Jul 08, 2024

CLEVELAND, OH — A man who witnesses said was armed with a machete and at least one other knife was taken into custody early Monday morning after a security scare at Cleveland Hopkins Airport.

Angelo Piazza was entering the north terminal to catch a flight back home to Florida when he said he noticed the man carrying what looked like a machete holder.

"He asked where I was flying," said Piazza, who was wrapping up a two-week trip to see family near Solon. "I told him I was flying to Florida and he told me to have a safe flight."

But as Piazza stood in line waiting to check his bag at the ticket counter, he said he noticed the man acting unusually.

"He got on the floor," said Piazza. "He started like crawling around, maybe attempting a handstand. I mean it was all kinds of crazy stuff."

Piazza said eventually, a Cleveland police officer arrived and took what looked like a nearly two-foot machete from the man.

"It's definitely alarming that there's a guy with a machete," said Piazza.

Then he said the man continued to make a scene.

"I wouldn't say shouting, but definitely some louder talking," said Piazza. "And he's got a knife to his own neck."

That's when Piazza picked up his cell phone and started recording.

By then, the man had jumped behind the Spirit Airlines ticket counter.

On the video, the man tells police and travelers inside the busy terminal that he's peaceful and trying to get to Jerusalem, repeatedly telling the crowd he's a prophet.

Video taken by a southeast Ohio mother and daughter preparing to fly to Florida shows police firing a Taser at the man.

The man then jumps a wall and runs away from police.

In the recording, you can see a knife in his hand as he runs toward the security line.

"I was absolutely worried for them," said Piazza. "You just saw people like moving in sync like away, getting, you know, away from and they were pushing into each other and they didn't care."

He described the mood as tense, until the man jumped over a wall and onto stairs below.

According to a brief statement from an airport spokesperson, "The individual was quickly apprehended and taken into custody. Airport operations were not affected by this incident."

But Monday evening, travelers we talked with said they were shocked something like this could happen inside the busy airport.

"Not in an airport," said Caleb Samol of Cleveland. "You're supposed to feel absolutely safe as possible here."

"It just kind of speaks to the fact that, I don't know if you can ever have a fully secure airport or fully secure public area in general," said Amanda Jaronowski of Independence. "It's the state of the world so it's a little sad."

Cleveland police have not released the name of the man taken into custody or said what charges he may face.