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I-Team: Federal agents barge into wrong Boston hotel room during training, handcuff pilot

I-Team: Federal agents enter wrong Boston hotel room, interrogated man during training
I-Team: Federal agents enter wrong Boston hotel room, interrogated man during training 02:32

BOSTON – WBZ-TV I-Team sources say the FBI, along with other federal agents, entered the wrong Boston hotel room as part of a training exercise Tuesday night.

Sources told WBZ chief investigative reporter Cheryl Fiandaca that mistakes were made as federal agents conducting a mock investigation in the middle of the night woke up an airline pilot who had no idea what was going on.

They handcuffed the man and interrogated him for nearly an hour before realizing their mistake, sources said.

It happened on the 15th floor of the Revere Hotel on Stuart Street.

I-Team sources say late Tuesday night, FBI and Department of Defense agents banged on the door to Room 1505 demanding to be let in. A Delta Air Lines pilot who was a guest at the hotel was sleeping inside, woke up and opened the door. Agents barged in, handcuffed the man who is in his 30s, interrogated him and put him in the shower.

It was more than 45 minutes before they took off the handcuffs, realized their mistake, and apologized.

Sources say the agents were conducting a training operation and a mock interrogation for a Department of Defense deployment.

Hotel security was notified about the incident and contacted Boston Police. 

The I-Team obtained the police report. It shows responding officers, wearing body cameras, were told law enforcement agents were conducting a training exercise inside the building.

EMS was called to evaluate the pilot, who refused treatment. The I-Team spoke to the man by phone. The pilot said he needed to speak to his employer before commenting.

The FBI released a statement in response to the I-Team's questions. 

At approximately 10:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 4, 2023, the FBI Boston Division was assisting the U.S. Department of Defense in conducting a Department of Defense (DOD) training exercise at a hotel in Boston to simulate a situation their personnel might encounter in a deployed environment. Based on inaccurate information, they were mistakenly sent to the wrong room and detained an individual, not the intended role player. Thankfully nobody was injured. The Boston Police Department was called and responded to the scene to confirm that this was indeed a training exercise. Safety is always a priority of the FBI, and our law enforcement partners, and we take these incidents very seriously. The Boston Division is reviewing the incident with DOD for further action as deemed appropriate.

Delta also issued a statement about the incident.

"We are looking into reports of an alleged incident in Boston that may involve Delta people. We have nothing further to share at this time other than to reaffirm our commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of our people," Delta said.

Vic Hartman, a former 25-year veteran of the FBI, said the training exercise in public does not make sense to him.

"Night arrests are unusual so why would you train for a night arrest at 10 p.m.," Hartman said. "It's unusual, there could be a justification for it, it's just not apparent to me on the surface."

He's not involved in this case, but he's done training arrests and oversaw exercises just like the one in question.

"On the face of it, it doesn't seem within protocol of most trainings," Hartman said. 

WBZ reached out to the Department of Defense and the Revere Hotel for comment but has not heard back.

Steve Riddle was staying at the hotel with his wife and kids on a school history trip Tuesday night, just two floors up from the botched exercise. He's glad the agents didn't accidentally enter his room.

"Somebody could have gotten shot, killed," he told WBZ-TV Thursday. "It just makes you kind of wonder a little bit about the FBI and their outreach and what they can do to folks and you have no control over it. It's kind of creepy." 

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