A Massachusetts man tried to open a plane’s emergency door on a flight from Los Angeles to Boston and stab a flight attendant in the neck with a broken metal spoon, prosecutors have alleged.
Francisco Severo Torres, 33, of Leominster, was tackled and restrained with the aid of passengers before being arrested on Sunday at Boston Logan International Airport when United Flight 2609 landed, the US attorney’s office in Boston said.
Torres was charged with interference and attempted interference with flight crew members and attendants using a dangerous weapon, the office added.
He was detained at an initial appearance in federal court on Monday pending a hearing scheduled for Thursday.
An email seeking comment was left with his federal public defender.
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.
Another flight attendant had noticed Torres near the door and believed he had tampered with it. The crew told the captain he was a threat and the plane should be landed 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.
United Airlines said no one was hurt.
“Thanks to the quick action of our crew and customers, one customer was restrained after becoming a security concern on United flight 2609 from Los Angeles to Boston,” the airline said.
“The flight landed safely and was met by law enforcement.”
The airline said it has a zero-tolerance policy for violence and Torres will be banned from flying on United pending an investigation.
One passenger told investigators Torres had asked where on the safety card it showed where the door handle was located during the flight attendants’ pre-takeoff safety briefing, prosecutors said.
If convicted, he could face life in prison.