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Passengers Tie Up Berserk Man on Airliner

July 09, 1986|MICHAEL SEILER and NIESON HIMMEL | Times Staff Writers

A man who attempted to force his way into the cockpit and then tried to open a cabin door of a United Airlines 747 en route to Los Angeles from Honolulu was restrained by crew members and passengers, FBI and airline officials said this morning.

Eric Reed, 25, of Philadelphia was arrested by FBI agents at Los Angeles International Airport Tuesday night and booked on suspicion of federal charges of interfering with a flight crew, an FBI spokesman said.

Reed was hospitalized for observation after he was handed over to agents at the airport in "a semi-catatonic state," FBI agent Fred Regan said. Regan said there was no immediate explanation for Reed's actions.

"Everyone on that plane was absolutely terrified," said passenger Marvin Goren, 63, of Encino. "We were one scared bunch."

The incident aboard United's Flight 188 took place about 800 miles and 90 minutes from arrival in Los Angeles when Reed told a flight attendant that "someone was trying to kill him" and asked her to request the plane's captain to radio the airport to have police meet the flight, United spokesman Chuck Novak said.

Reed then ran through the cabin of the jet and knocked on the cockpit door in an approximation of the coded knock stewardesses use to gain access, according to witnesses aboard the flight.

Witnesses said members of the cockpit crew apparently opened the door, allowing Reed to gain partial access briefly, but quickly pushed him back into the passenger section.

He then tried to open a cabin door, setting off an evacuation alarm.

The cabin door can't be opened in flight, Novak said.

Passengers and crew members subdued Reed, binding his arms and legs with ties, belts and the audio headsets of passengers.

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