By Nate Raymond and David Shepardson
BOSTON (Reuters) – A United Airlines passenger has been arrested after trying to open an emergency exit door during a flight on Sunday from Los Angeles to Boston and then trying to stab a flight attendant in the neck, U.S. prosecutors said on Monday.
Passengers tackled Francisco Severo Torres, 33, after the attempted stabbing and the flight crew helped restrain him prior the plane landing at Boston Logan International Airport, prosecutors said.
A judge ordered the Leominster, Massachusetts resident held without bail following an initial court appearance on Monday. Torres is set to have another hearing on Thursday. A court-appointed lawyer for Torres did not respond to a request for comment.
Prosecutors said that about 45 minutes before the flight landed in Boston, the flight crew received an alarm in the cockpit that a door between the first class and coach sections had been disarmed.
After another flight attendant reported seeing Torres near the door and his suspicions that Torres tampered with it, a colleague confronted the man, who asked if any cameras recorded him doing so, prosecutors said. Torres soon after tried to stab of the flight attendants with a broken metal spoon, hitting him on the neck area three times before Torres was tackled, prosecutors said.
“We have zero tolerance for any type of violence on our flights, and this customer will be banned from flying on United pending an investigation,” United Airlines said in a statement. “We are cooperating with law enforcement in their investigation.”
Torres was charged with one count of interference and attempted interference with flight crew members and attendants using a dangerous weapon. He could face up to life in prison if convicted.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston and David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Will Dunham)