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Connecticut Plane Crash Appears To Be Suicide, Not Terrorism, Official Says

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (CBS/AP) –A U.S. official familiar with the investigation into a Connecticut plane crash that killed one person says it appears to have been a case of suicide, not terrorism.

The news comes after the NTSB said Wednesday it is turning the investigation over to the FBI because the evidence so far "indicates the crash is the result of an intentional act."

The official wasn't authorized to speak publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Student pilot Feras Freitekh and flight instructor Arian Prevalla were aboard the Cessna that crashed into a utility pole on an East Hartford street before bursting into flames. Freitekh was killed, while Prevalla was hospitalized with severe burns.

East Hartford Plane Crash
A small plane crashed with two people on board in East Hartford, Conn. (Image Credit: Nancy Blackmer)

The official says the flight instructor described the student pilot to police investigators as disgruntled about learning to be a pilot. The official says the instructor told police there was an altercation in the cockpit during their training flight, and the instructor was unable to regain control of the plane from the student pilot.

Prevalla's social media pages indicate he is president of the American Flight Academy. They say he is originally from Albania and now lives in Hartford.

At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, East Hartford police Lt. Joshua Litwin said he couldn't confirm the report about this being a case of suicide.

"It does appear to be intentional, but beyond that, the investigation is continuing," he said. "Nothing's off the table at this point and nothing's been concluded."

Police did say there were two sets of controls aboard the plane.

CBS News reports Freitekh was a Jordanian national who first entered the United States in 2012 on a temporary student visa to take a flight school course.

The crash occurred close to jet engine maker Pratt & Whitney corporate headquarters.

"I just saw the plane on its side. It wasn't flying straight at all. It was on its side," witness Michael Pullo said. "And then, I just saw it dip, and I was like 'that hit the ground. That hit the ground.'"

Two people in a minivan were taken to a hospital with minor injuries.

plane crash
A plane crashed near a van in East Hartford. (WBZ-TV)

"The fact that this wasn't even more catastrophic is nothing short of a miracle," Lt. Litwin said.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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