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Air marshals are trained to deal with abnormal behavior. But the airline crew did not know about Alpizar's condition, and Denis Breslin, a spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association, suggests that Buechner's cries about her husband's illness could have been a ploy to distract the air marshals. "They are trained to make a split-second decision. They don't have time to second-guess," says Representative John Mica of Florida, who chairs the House subcommittee on aviation. "I think they acted absolutely appropriately."
Critics of the air-marshal program cite the shooting as evidence that the agents should not be armed in the first place. "The idea that putting a gun on an airplane makes the public safer--that simply isn't true," says Kristen Rand, legislative director of the Violence Policy Center, a nonprofit gun-control group. An investigation is being conducted by the Miami-Dade police. But right now, the one person taking blame is Alpizar's wife. "He didn't want to get on the plane," passengers heard Buechner say after the shots were fired. "My husband is dead. It's all my fault."