The gunman who hijacked a chartered flight at the Montego Bay Airport has been identified as Stephen Fray, a Jamaican man in his early 20s who is said to be mentally ill.
A 20-year-old Montego Bay resident, Stephen Fray took over the CanJet Airlines charter flight shortly after 10 p.m. after evading several checkpoints and boarding the aircraft.
A statement last night from Kent Woodside, the vice president and general manager of CanJet Airlines, said “An armed man boarded CanJet Flight 918 which had landed at Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay.”
The statement added, “Flight 918 had departed from Halifax at 7:15 p.m. The flight was due to travel from Montego Bay to Santa Clara, in Cuba. There were 174 passengers and eight crew scheduled to leave Montego Bay on Flight 918.”
Fray who spent most of the time on the aircraft in the back cabin reportedly demanded fuel, and a cellular phone. His request for the phone was met but not for the fuel.
Fray reportedly robbed several of the passengers and held security personnel at bay before he released the passengers, holding back five members of the crew as hostages.
Tourism officials afterwards met with the freed hostages after which they were sent to a number of hotels in and around the city.
The stand-off saw Fray’s father, sister and friends negotiating on behalf of the hostages without success.
The young man, who is from a prominent family in the western city, reportedly started acting strangely about a year ago. However, it was three months ago that his friends say they saw a marked difference in his personality and up to a week ago he was seen acting strangely on a popular beach in the second city.
There were no injuries to the passengers or any damage to the aircraft during the stand-off.
A release from the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) said that at approximately 6:40 am today “members of the Jamaica Defence Force Counter Terrorism Operations Group entered the cabin of the aircraft and effected a tactical resolution authorized by the incident commando and in the process disarmed and arrested the gunman who has been identified as Stephen Fray from a Montego Bay address while rescuing the other hostages on board.”
The hijacker is in police custody and is scheduled to be interviewed while crew members are being debriefed and will be provided with counseling and medical services. The police say no one was hurt.
169 passengers, who were also on board, were released earlier.
The Government is working to protect Jamaica’s image following last night’s hijacking of the Canadian-bound flight.
The incident has made the headlines on the world’s most popular news channels and newspapers.
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