Passengers on an American Airlines flight going from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. were in for a horrifying scene when a disgruntled passenger got into a physical altercation with flight attendants and tried to open the exit door mid-flight.
The Sunday afternoon flight had to make an emergency diverted landing in Kansas City as a result of the incident.
According to the FBI report, the suspect in question is 50-year-old Juan Remberto Rivas who is still in federal custody.
The report claims that Rivas walked up to the cockpit during the flight where he began to get violent by grabbing plastic silverware and hiding it half in his shirt sleeve to make a weapon out of it.
He then tried to smash a champagne bottle open and pushed one of the food and beverage carts into the flight attendants.
The incident then began to escalate when Rivas made is way towards the exit door of the plane.
“Rivas positioned one foot on the aircraft door, the affidavit says, and began pulling hard on the handle with one hand, at first, and then both of his hands,” The FBI release states. “A flight attendant grabbed a coffee pot and hit Rivas twice in the head with it.”
Other passengers then helped detain and restrain Rivas until he was eventually zip tied and duct taped down prior to the plane making its emergency landing where law enforcement met the crew and Rivas, who was given medical treatment for a head injury that he received during the incident.
“American Airlines flight 1775 with service from Los Angeles (LAX) to Washington, D.C. (DCA) diverted to Kansas City (MCI) due to an unruly passenger,” American Airlines said in a statement. “We’re grateful to our crew members, who are consistently dedicated to the safety and care of our customers and who handled the circumstances with the utmost skill and professionalism.”
Flight attendants said that they did not serve Rivas any alcohol on the flight.
The FBI release did not note why the incident began but CNN reported that, per an affidavit, Rivas had grown paranoid and told flight attendants “people were attempting to hurt him and they followed him on the plane,” even accusing one of having a knife and that he “heard the individuals harming his family over the telephone.”
Rivas was charged with “assaulting and intimidating a flight attendant and thereby interfering in the performance of the flight attendant’s duties.” He is currently awaiting his hearing.
Another American Airlines flight was diverted in October 2021 after a passenger allegedly punched a flight attendant in the face over an argument about mask enforcemet on the aircraft.
Last January, the FAA signed a new zero-tolerance policy into effect that would require a “stricter legal enforcement policy against unruly airline passengers” as a result of a surge in incidents on board due to to mask mandates and pandemic-related restrictions.
“Historically, the agency has addressed unruly-passenger incidents using a variety of methods ranging from warnings and counseling to civil penalties,” the FAA said. “Under the new zero tolerance policy, FAA will not address these cases with warnings or counseling. The agency will pursue legal enforcement action against any passenger who assaults, threatens, intimidates, or interferes with airline crew members.”
American Airlines was up around 5.72% year over year as of late Tuesday afternoon.