Man charged for trying to open plane door and stabbing crew on United Airlines flight

Francisco Torres was restrained by crew and passengers and arrested at a Boston airport

Francisco Severo Torres, 33, was arrested at Boston Logan International Airport, the US attorney's office said. AP
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A US man tried to open an emergency exit door and stab a flight attendant in the neck with a broken metal spoon during a United Airlines flight, prosecutors said on Monday.

Francisco Severo Torres, 33, of Leominster, was restrained by passengers and crew on a cross-country flight from Los Angeles to Boston before being arrested on Sunday, at Boston Logan International Airport when United Airlines Flight 2609 landed, the US attorney's office in Boston said.

Mr Torres, from Massachusetts, was faces one charge of interference and attempted interference with flight crew members and attendants using a dangerous weapon.

“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.

“We are co-operating with law enforcement in their investigation.”

He was detained at an initial appearance in federal court on Monday and awaits a hearing scheduled for Thursday.

An email seeking comment was left with his federal public defender, AP said.

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 the door’s locking handle had been moved out of the fully locked position, about a quarter of the way towards 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.

A door in a plane cannot be opened once in flight due to cabin pressure.

Another flight attendant had noticed that Mr Torres was seen near the door and believed he had tampered with it, authorities said. The crew told the captain that he was a threat and the plane should be landed as soon as possible.

At that point, prosecutors allege, Mr 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.

Investigators said Mr Torres admitted knowing that if he opened the door many people would die.

United Airlines said no one was injured.

“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 company said.

“The flight landed safely and was met by law enforcement.”

If convicted, Mr Torres could face life in prison.

Updated: March 07, 2023, 4:11 PM