A man has been charged and arrested after allegedly attempting to open an emergency exit door while onboard a flight from Los Angeles to Boston – before then trying to stab a flight attendant in the neck, prosecutors have said.
Francisco Severo Torres, 33, was charged with one count of interference and attempted interference with flight crew members and attendants using a dangerous weapon, according to the US Attorney’s Office, District of Massachusetts.
The charging documents claim he was a passenger on board a United Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Boston on 5 March.
Around 45 minutes before landing, the flight crew received an alarm in the cockpit that a starboard side door located between the first class and coach sections of the aircraft was disarmed.
Upon inspection, a flight attendant discovered the door’s locking handle had been moved out of the fully locked position, and that the emergency slide arming lever had been moved to the “disarmed” position.
The flight attendant reported this to the captain and flight crew after securing the door and emergency slide.
Another flight attendant then reported that he had seen Torres near the door and believed he had tampered with it.
One of the crew confronted Torres about tampering with the door, to which he allegedly responded by asking if there were cameras showing that he had done so.
The court documents showed that the flight attendant then notified the captain that they believed Torres posed a threat to the aircraft and that the plane needed to land as soon as possible.
Shortly after that, Torres is said to have got out of his seat and approached the starboard side door where two flight attendants were standing in the aisle.
One of them saw Torres mouthing something that they could not hear.
Torres allegedly thrust himself towards one of the flight attendants in a stabbing motion with a broken metal spoon before striking their neck area three times.
Passengers tackled him and he was restrained with the assistance of the flight crew.
Torres was immediately taken into custody upon the flight’s arrival in Boston.
During subsequent interviews with passengers, Torres is said to have asked a fellow flyer where on the safety card it stated where the door handle was located prior to take off.
He was also seen pacing in a galley.
Torres could face up to life in prison for his charges, up to five years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.