Flying Blind

by R. Reese Fuller

The FBI says a troubled teen planned to fly a plane into the Cajundome - but Hannah Montana wasn't a target. Last Friday, the national and international press reported that a teenager with plans to fly a plane into the Cajundome during that night’s Hannah Montana concert performance had been apprehended in Nashville. The unnamed teen had been taken into custody at Nashville’s airport on Tuesday night after he rode on a flight from Los Angeles. CNN reported: “The teen wanted to crash the plane into a Hannah Montana concert in Lafayette, La., two CNN television affiliates in Nashville, WSMV and WTVF, reported, citing unnamed sources. The concert is scheduled for Friday night at the Lafayette Cajundome.”

It seemed highly unlikely, considering the teen was apprehended on Tuesday night, two days before the news was made public. Even Memphis-based FBI spokesman George Bolds told CNN the male teen intended to hijack a plane and to commit suicide but couldn’t say whether that night’s concert played any role.

The Associated Press picked up on the Hannah Montana angle as well and reported: “Nashville television stations, citing unnamed sources, said the teen unsuccessfully tried to hijack the plane to Lafayette, La., and crash it into a building where a ‘Hannah Montana’ concert was to be performed.”

Steve Krueger, the supervisory special agent for the FBI’s Lafayette and Lake Charles office, tells The Independent Weekly that the teen’s plan had nothing to do with the Hannah Montana concert, although he did intend to fly a plane into the Cajundome. “Understand that this scheme was developed by a very troubled 16-year-old kid,” Krueger says. “I think his plan was to fly the plane into the Cajundome, and I think an inference was made that he may be able to see the Cajundome better at night if there was a function going on. So I don’t know whether he specifically cared about flying it into the Cajundome when there was an event. His main motive was suicide.”

Krueger says the teen’s plan was to land in Nashville, take a plane to New Orleans, and catch a third flight westbound out of the city, which he would then hijack. “I think the media has done a lot to focus on Hannah Montana,” he says, “and it’s my understanding that Hannah Montana was never even mentioned. In other words, his desire to crash that plane into the Cajundome had absolutely nothing to do with Hannah Montana.”

The teen made no effort to hijack the plane from L.A. to Nashville, despite the initial reports. “As you begin to try to rationalize a 16-year-old’s plot, there are significant holes in it,” Krueger says. “The way he described it, it could never have happened. He would have never been able to take over the cockpit. I think the kid’s 105 pounds, soaking wet.”

The teen was raised in California but was a Louisiana native. “He was born in Louisiana,” Krueger says, “and he wanted to die in Louisiana.”

The boy pled guilty to a charge of a delinquent act in a juvenile court in Nashville on Friday and was to be sent to Los Angeles to face charges. The Hannah Montana concert, meanwhile, proceeded without incident.