Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Very Strange Story Of Carol Ann Gotbaum, Chapter 2

By now you may have seen the video of the takedown of Carol Ann Gotbaum at Sky Harbor airport in Phoenix on Friday, September 28.

There is much to review today, specifically conflicting accounts and questions regarding the timeline. It may be possible that Gotbaum missed not one but two departures for the connecting flight to Tucson.

The Arizona Republic has this information today:

fter arriving at Sky Harbor, she was scheduled to take a 1:30 p.m. flight to Tucson. She arrived at the gate at 1:06 p.m., according to a statement gate agent Rikki Greiner gave police.

Because the flight was full and overbooked, the airline had given her seat away, Greiner'sstatement said.

Greiner promised to get her on the next flight, at 2:58, and offered her a free round-trip ticket, but Carol "was borderline hysterical because she missed the first flight," the statement said.

Carol complained and later came back to the agent with a ticket from another passenger.

She wanted to give that passenger the free round-trip ticket and wanted to take his seat, instead.

That would be a security breach, Greiner said.

"It was at that point that Ms. Gotbaum began screaming and running around," the statement said.

We know that the incident with security began at 2:49, which was shortly before the departure of the second flight.

We know that Mrs. Gotbaum arrived in Phoenix at 12:30 PM. She arrived at the gate for her connecting flight at 1:06. Presumably she spoke to her husband in the interim. It is not likely that she considered herself late for this departure, 24 minutes prior to a commuter flight. The airline had overbooked and given away her seat, which it was free to do once departure was less than 30 minutes away.

Evidently, Mrs. Gotbaum was also late for the next departure, which is when she began to panic. She had presumably also been drinking in the interim and was perhaps becoming emotionally unstable.

This is the police version of the statement by gate agent Rikki Greiner:
She said she was a gate agent dealing with Gotbaum on Sept. 28. She said that Gotbaum had been scheduled on a 1:30 p.m. flight to Tucson. She said Gotbaum arrived late, after the doors closed. It was 1:06 p.m. The flight was full, so her seat had been given away. She had not checked in. The witness said she did not smell alcohol on Gotbaum but said she was carrying food from the Roadhouse 66 Bar, a bar and restaurant on the Sky Harbor concourse. She said her behavior was unbalanced but she physically seemed to be fine. Gotbaumwent to make a phone call and then came back later with a ticket from another passenger.

This adds information to the timeline while at the same time confusing the issue. This statement seems to imply that Mrs. Gotbaum had found a passenger who was booked on the 1:30 flight, but according to the statement the doors had been closed, so this would not have been possible.

The above is evidently not a complete statement, based on the other quotes in the article.

The other problem this creates is that Mrs. Gotbaum was apparently also late for the 2:58 departure and it was then that she became hysterical. Many witness reports have her screaming "I am not a terrorist!"

Today's information has scrambled what we previously thought we knew about this story, and it leaves us in an unclear position with regard to the 2:58 flight. What became of Mrs. Gotbaum between 1:30 PM and 2:49 PM?

I have been unable to locate a clean police report (CNN had a partial transcript). I have emailed Phoenix PD requesting a link to download all of the materials.