A man has been indicted and arrested for allegedly trying to open an emergency exit door on a flight from Los Angeles to Boston before attempting to stab a flight attendant in the neck, prosecutors said.
Francisco Severo Torres, 33, was charged with one count of interfering with and attempting to interfere with a flight crew and flight attendant with a dangerous weapon, according to the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Charge documents say he was a passenger on a United Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Boston on March 5.
About 45 minutes before landing, the crew was alerted in the cockpit that the starboard side door between the plane’s first and economy cabins had been disengaged.
Upon inspection, a flight attendant found that the door’s locking handle had been moved from the fully locked position and the emergency slide release lever had been moved to the “disarmed” position.
After locking the doors and emergency slides, the flight attendant reported the situation to the captain and crew.
Another flight attendant later reported seeing Torres near the door and believed he had been tampered with.
One of the crew members confronted Torres about tampering with the door, to which Torres allegedly responded by asking if there were cameras showing him having done so.
The flight attendant then notified the captain that they believed Torres posed a threat to the plane and that the plane needed to land as soon as possible, court documents show.
Shortly after, Torres is said to have left his seat and approached the starboard side door, where two flight attendants stood in the aisle.
One of them saw Torres speaking words they couldn’t hear.
Torres allegedly stabbed a flight attendant with a broken metal spoon before punching them in the neck three times.
Passengers grabbed him and he was subdued with the assistance of the crew.
Torres was taken into custody immediately after the plane landed in Boston.
In subsequent interviews with passengers, Torres is said to have asked a flight partner to write on a safety card where the door handle was before takeoff.
He was also seen pacing the kitchen.
Torres could face life in prison, up to five years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000 for his charges.