How One Man’s Rage Sealed The Fate of 43 Plane Passengers


NARRATOR: Investigators
don’t know who was shot with
the final bullet, just that it was
fired in the cabin. It’s enough for them
to finally piece together a picture of the
horrific final moments on board PSA 1771. What the hell? You could imagine what Ray
Thomson must have thought as this person whom he had
just terminated a few hours before walks past him in the
airline, hands him this note, and then probably goes
into the men’s room. And he’s reading this note
with its ominous message. NARRATOR: Next,
they hear the sound of a lavatory door opening. So we’re assuming that
he handed Ray the note, went into the restroom
where he took out the gun, came back out. We heard the door close
again just before the shots. Ray! Ray Thompson probably has
the most merciful of all the deaths on that plane. NARRATOR: In less than a
minute, a routine flight became a nightmare. There’s a problem captain! What’s the problem? GUNFIRE He was very careful. He had done the planning
this far fairly well, and we believe he followed
through with that plan. I’m the problem! GUNSHOTS It wouldn’t take much
knowledge or experience on a passenger part
to know that they were in deep, deep trouble. NARRATOR: After shooting
his former boss– GUNSHOTS –and three crew
members, David Burke pushed Flight 1771 into a
dive and left the cockpit. The airline’s
chief pilot was now the only person
on board who could pull the plane out of the dive. An off-duty pilot may have
been moving himself forward to try to render
whatever assistance he could once he
realized something drastic was happening. What the hell are you doing? You got to let me in there! Don’t do this! Come on! NARRATOR: But Burke
had one bullet left. What the hell are you doing? NARRATOR: That may have
accounted for the sixth shot. There are some who
speculate that David Burke was taking his own life. The evidence suggests otherwise. Had David Burke been
taking his own life, the gun would have
fallen from his hand after he had shot himself. NARRATOR: But since a
fragment of Burke’s fingertip was recovered from
the trigger guard, Bretzing reasons
that the killer was alive, holding onto the
gun, until the very moment of impact. Alarms were sounding
in the cockpit. There was increased noise
of the plane plummeting. Then just before impact,
it became silent. They tell us that it actually
broke the sound barrier. Of course, it would have
been a horrifying experience, the final few seconds
of their lives. NARRATOR: One man’s rage meant
two minutes of pure terror for 42 people.

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