EAST HARTFORD, Conn., Oct. 12 (UPI) — A small airplane that crashed into a Connecticut neighborhood appears to have been flown into the ground intentionally, federal authorities said Wednesday.
The twin-engine Piper PA-34 Seneca went down in East Hartford on Tuesday, crashing into a neighborhood on Main Street. One person, a Jordanian national, was killed in the crash and another was pulled from the wreckage alive.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and National Transportation Safety Board have delved into the examination of wreckage and NTSB officials said Wednesday the preliminary evidence indicates the crash was a deliberate act.
Officials said the Jordanian citizen, Feras M. Freitekh, 28, was a student pilot. Arian Prevalla, the owner of Connecticut Flight Academy in Hartford, remains hospitalized with severe burns. He is reportedly in critical condition.
Although the NTSB indicated the crash appears deliberate, one official told NBC News terrorism is not suspected, based on a search of Freitekh’s home. Officials are now trying to get warrants to search his electronic devices.
A nearby apartment complex is also being searched as part of the investigation, Hartford Deputy Police Chief Brian Foley said.
“We want to ensure our residents they are not in danger,” he noted.
NTSB officials said their belief that the crash was intentional is based on interviews with Prevalla. Because it appears a crime has been committed, the civil aviation authority has transferred the investigation to the FBI.
Prevalla told authorities Freitekh was flying the plane at the time of the crash, and that there had been an argument or struggle for the controls before it went down.
The Piper crashed Tuesday afternoon after striking power lines and a utility pole, investigators said, knocking out power to thousands in the area.