US officials believe Connecticut plane crash was intentional

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NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said on Wednesday it believes a small plane crash in East Hartford, Connecticut, was due to an intentional act and is transferring the investigation to the FBI.

The plane slammed into a utility pole and burst into flames on Tuesday, killing a flight student aboard and leaving an instructor with serious burns.

In a press release, the NTSB said its initial investigation indicated that the crash was "the result of an intentional act."

Photos from the scene:

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Deadly plane crash in Connecticut
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Deadly plane crash in Connecticut
Investigators at the scene of a twin-engine plane that struck a utility pole and burst into flames in downtown East Hartford, Connecticut U.S., October 12, 2016. REUTERS/Michelle McLoughlin
Investigators at the scene of a twin-engine plane that struck a utility pole and burst into flames in downtown East Hartford, Connecticut U.S., October 12, 2016. REUTERS/Michelle McLoughlin
Investigators at the scene of a twin-engine plane that struck a utility pole and burst into flames in downtown East Hartford, Connecticut U.S., October 12, 2016. REUTERS/Michelle McLoughlin
Investigators at the scene of a twin-engine plane that struck a utility pole and burst into flames in downtown East Hartford, Connecticut U.S., October 12, 2016. REUTERS/Michelle McLoughlin
Investigators at the scene of a twin-engine plane that struck a utility pole and burst into flames in downtown East Hartford, Connecticut U.S., October 12, 2016. REUTERS/Michelle McLoughlin
Investigators at the scene of a twin-engine plane that struck a utility pole and burst into flames in downtown East Hartford, Connecticut U.S., October 12, 2016. REUTERS/Michelle McLoughlin
Investigators at the scene of a twin-engine plane that struck a utility pole and burst into flames in downtown East Hartford, Connecticut U.S., October 12, 2016. REUTERS/Michelle McLoughlin
Investigators at the scene of a twin-engine plane that struck a utility pole and burst into flames in downtown East Hartford, Connecticut U.S., October 12, 2016. REUTERS/Michelle McLoughlin
Investigators at the scene of a twin-engine plane that struck a utility pole and burst into flames in downtown East Hartford, Connecticut U.S., October 12, 2016. REUTERS/Michelle McLoughlin
Investigators at the scene of a twin-engine plane that struck a utility pole and burst into flames in downtown East Hartford, Connecticut U.S., October 12, 2016. REUTERS/Michelle McLoughlin
Investigators at the scene of a twin-engine plane that struck a utility pole and burst into flames in downtown East Hartford, Connecticut U.S., October 12, 2016. REUTERS/Michelle McLoughlin
Investigators at the scene of a twin-engine plane that struck a utility pole and burst into flames in downtown East Hartford, Connecticut U.S., October 12, 2016. REUTERS/Michelle McLoughlin
Investigators at the scene of a twin-engine plane that struck a utility pole and burst into flames in downtown East Hartford, Connecticut U.S., October 12, 2016. REUTERS/Michelle McLoughlin
Investigators at the scene of a twin-engine plane that struck a utility pole and burst into flames in downtown East Hartford, Connecticut U.S., October 12, 2016. REUTERS/Michelle McLoughlin
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A U.S. national security official identified the student as Feras Freitekh. Federal Aviation Administration records showed he lived in Orland Hills, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, and earned a private pilot certificate last year.

The security official, who requested anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation, said law enforcement would look into whether Freitekh had ties to terrorism. The official said Freitekh was not known to U.S. intelligence.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx declined to say if the crash was an act of terrorism. The FBI "is going to dig into the facts," he told reporters on Wednesday.

The instructor and Freitekh were the only people aboard the plane when it crashed at about 3:30 p.m. EDT (1930 GMT) on Tuesday during flight training that originated at the Hartford-Brainard Airport, local police said.

The instructor, who has not been identified, is being treated at the Bridgeport Hospital's burn center, according to East Hartford Mayor Marcia Leclerc.

The New York Times, citing unnamed federal officials, reported that the instructor had told investigators that Freitekh deliberately crashed the plane.

East Hartford Police Lieutenant Joshua Litwin said at a news conference on Wednesday that the plane had two sets of controls, but that he did not know which person was flying the plane at the time of the crash.

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