Airline Passenger Tried to Open Emergency Door: Prosecutors

33-year-old attempted to stab United crew member before he was tackled, US attorney's office says
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 6, 2023 7:15 PM CST
Prosecutors: Passenger Tried to Open Jet's Door During Flight
Stock photo   (Getty/bari paramarta)

A Massachusetts man tried to open an airliner's emergency door on a cross-country flight from Los Angeles to Boston and then tried to stab a flight attendant in the neck with a broken metal spoon, federal prosecutors alleged Monday. Francisco Severo Torres, 33, of Leominster, was tackled and restrained with the aid of passengers and arrested Sunday at Boston's Logan Airport when United Airlines Flight 2609 landed, the US attorney's office in Boston said in a statement, per the AP. He was charged with interference and attempted interference with flight crew members and attendants using a dangerous weapon, the statement added.

The man was detained at an initial appearance in federal court on Monday and awaits a hearing scheduled for Thursday. His federal public defender could not be reached for comment. The plane was about 45 minutes from arrival in Boston when the crew received an alarm that a side door on the aircraft was disarmed, prosecutors said. A flight attendant noticed that the door's locking handle had been moved out of the fully locked position about a quarter of the way toward the unlocked position and that the emergency slide arming lever had been moved to the disarmed position, authorities said. The crew secured the door and slide. Cabin pressure prevents a door in an airplane from being opened in flight.

Another flight attendant had noticed that Torres had been near the door and believed he had tampered with it, authorities said. The crew told the captain that he was a threat and that the plane should land as soon as possible. At that point, prosecutors allege, Torres got out of his seat, approached two flight attendants standing in the aisle, and used the spoon to make stabbing motions, hitting a flight attendant three times in the neck area. Passengers tackled Torres, who was restrained with the assistance of the crew. The airline said no one was injured, crediting "the quick action of our crew and customers." If convicted, he could face life in prison. (Two United airliners made contact Monday at Logan.)

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