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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Hijacked Plane on Ground in Key West, Florida

Aired April 1, 2003 - 12:26   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We've been following the case of this plane that made an island hop, if you will, from the Isle of Youth, which is just south of Cuba, then to Cuba. Now, we understand, it has landed in Key West, Florida. And onboard there may be up to as many 20 people onboard this plane, which has been hijacked by someone who had, by some reports, may be carrying with him a couple of hand grenades.
You're seeing here lived pictures of the -- or not live pictures, rather, but taped pictures earlier of that plane when it was on the ground. I believe this is when it was being refueled in Havana.

Let's go now to the telephones. We're joined now by Steve Torrance, who is with the Key West Police. Mr. Torrance, I believe that this plane has been actually on the ground there for about an hour or so now?

OFC. STEVE TORRANCE, KEY WEST, FLORIDA POLICE: Almost an hour now, yes.

HARRIS: What's going on right now?

TORRANCE: Right now the plane has been completely cleared of all the 32 passengers and one suspected hijacker. There are three children that the plane is now secured and it's being just double and triple checked for any kind of explosive devices.

The hijacker has been separated from the group and we had the Monroe County Sheriff's Office bomb squad search him and took two -- two items from this person and now the individual is being re-searched and come to a peaceful resolution.

HARRIS: Well, Steve, can you tell us about those two items that were taken from this person who was being -- at least being thought of as the hijacker here? Were those two items taken from him actually two hand grenades?

TORRANCE: Well, I couldn't see. I wasn't that close. But they were reported to be hand grenades.

HARRIS: They were reported to be hand grenades.

TORRANCE: Yes.

HARRIS: What happens to him right now? This hijacker -- where is he going to go? TORRANCE: He is going to be turned over to federal custody. He's in federal custody. This will be an FBI case. And they will probably be giving you more information as -- as time goes on.

HARRIS: Do you know whether or not this person made any statements as to -- as to why he was doing what he was doing?

TORRANCE: No, I don't, but when he got off the airplane, he had a little boy, probably looked like maybe 4 or 5 years old, in his arm when he got off the airplane.

HARRIS: Is there any indication about a relationship between him and this boy? Was this boy a hostage?

TORRANCE: I -- I -- I don't believe it was a hostage. It looked like it was a family member.

HARRIS: I'm sorry. Back up. I'm sorry. You say you do not believe that the boy he was holding was a hostage?

TORRANCE: No. It looked like they were family. When he let the little boy down on the tarmac, the little boy grabbed his leg and it was -- it looked from my vantage point that it was, you know, family or some kind of relationship.

HARRIS: And you say there were a total of 32 people on board. And the others....

TORRANCE: Yes.

HARRIS: ...where have they gone and what's going to happen with them?

TORRANCE: Those -- those -- they have been taken to -- the federal authorities here have taken them into possession and will be interviewing them and then they will be, I believe, turned over to immigration.

HARRIS: Understood. Steve Torrance with the Key West Police. We thank you very much for that and for the information there.

Something of a resolution now being reached in this story that we've been watching, Wolf, unfold over the last 12 hours or so. This plane that had been hijacked originally from the Isle of Youth, south of Cuba, landing in Havana, staying there for some time, now in Key West. And now the hijacker, who is believed to have had perhaps two hand grenades on board, now in the custody of the police, soon to be going to the FBI.

We'll follow this story up and bring any developments as we get them here.

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