US: A 33-year-old man from Leominster, Massachusetts, has been arrested and charged for allegedly trying to open an emergency exit door while aboard a United Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Boston and then attempting to stab a flight attendant in the neck, the US Department of Justice said.
"A Leominster, Mass. man has been arrested and charged for allegedly attempting to open an emergency exit door while aboard a United Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Boston and then allegedly attempting to stab a flight attendant in the neck," US Department of Justice said in the statement.
The US Department of Justice said that Francisco Severo Torres was charged with one count of interference and attempted interference with flight crew members and attendants using a dangerous weapon.
According to the statement, Torres was arrested on Sunday evening at Boston Logan International Airport and after appearing in court, was detained pending a hearing scheduled on March 9.
Accused attempted to open emergency door mid-air, 45 minutes before landing
According to the charging documents, Torres was a passenger aboard a United Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Boston. Approximately 45 minutes before landing, the flight crew received an alarm in the cockpit that a starboard side door located between the first class and coach sections of the aircraft was disarmed.
A flight attendant upon inspection found that the door's locking handle had been moved out of the fully locked position, approximately a quarter of the way towards the unlocked position and that the emergency slide arming lever had been moved to the "disarmed" position.
The flight attendant reported the matter to the captain and flight crew after securing the door and emergency slide, according to the statement. In subsequent discussions, a fellow flight attendant reported that he had observed Torres near the door and believed Torres had tampered with the door.
A flight attendant then spoke to Torres about tampering with the door. As per the statement, Francisco Severo Torres allegedly responded by asking if there were cameras showing that he had done so.
According to court documents, the flight attendant informed the captain that they believed Torres posed a threat to the aircraft and that the captain needed to land the aircraft as soon as possible. Shortly after, it is alleged that Torres approached the starboard side door where two flight attendants were standing in the aisle.
Accused stabbed flight attendant thrice in the neck
One of the flight attendants witnessed Torres mouthing something that he could not hear. He then allegedly thrust towards one of the flight attendants in a stabbing motion with a broken metal spoon, hitting the flight attendant on the neck area three times.
Passengers then tackled Torres and he was restrained with the assistance of the flight crew. Torres was immediately taken into custody after the flight landed in Boston. It is alleged that passengers who were aboard the flight during subsequent interviews reported that Torres asked a fellow passenger about the location of the door handle in the safety card.
Torres asked the question to a fellow passenger during the flight attendant's safety briefing. He was seen pacing in a galley prior to attacking the flight attendant, according to the statement.
According to the statement, the charge of interference and attempted interference with flight crew members and attendants using a dangerous weapon provides for a sentence of up to life in prison, up to five years of supervised release and a fine of up to USD 250,000.
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