COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WJZ) — Fighter jets intercepted a plane and forced it to land in Baltimore. The aircraft had flown into restricted airspace above our nation’s capital.
Weijia Jiang explains what happened.
At 6:30 p.m. Monday, a civilian plane entered restricted airspace above Washington, D.C.
“Although 9/11 happened 10 years ago, it’s first and foremost in our minds and it’s scary,” said Lori Tramont.
The Air Force scrambled to send two fighter jets to escort the plane out of the area, forcing a landing at BWI Thurgood Marshall. Authorities describe it as a general aviation aircraft that was out of communications.
“If you are a trained pilot, that shouldn’t be happening,” said Donna Nicholson.
Less than 24 hours after that, federal and state security came to the University of Maryland to have an intimate discussion about the incident and ways to keep the country safe.
“Homeland security really has to begin with hometown security,” said U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.
Napolitano and Governor Martin O’Malley led a forum about terrorism since 9/11, pointing to how critical communication is to deal with incidents like the one at BWI. They also addressed concerns about homegrown attacks.
“The lone actor is a very difficult law enforcement thing to prevent. Let’s not minimize the problem. It’s real, it’s difficult and we struggle with it every day,” Napolitano said.
Just last month, WJZ uncovered chilling new details about Antonio Martinez, a Marylander accused of trying to detonate an SUV full of explosives at a military recruiting center in Catonsville. He told informants all he thinks about is jihad.
“The information sharing has improved. Our ability to respond quickly has improved,” O’Malley said.
The FAA has not released the name of the pilot.