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Man Opens Rear Door of Moving Jet

January 08, 2002|JENNIFER OLDHAM | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A New Orleans man was taken into custody Monday after he allegedly opened the rear door of a moving Southwest Airlines jet as it was cleared for takeoff at Los Angeles International Airport.

The man, 36, who was apparently intoxicated, was arrested after the pilot turned the Las Vegas-bound jet around and returned to a gate, said Matt McLaughlin, a Los Angeles FBI spokesman.

The FBI expects to file a federal charge of interfering with a flight crew and possibly additional charges for assault on a flight attendant, he said. He wouldn't release the suspect's name, pending the decision on the charges.

Southwest Airlines Flight 1702 left the gate at about 3:10 p.m. As the plane was taxiing, a man left his seat and walked to the rear of the aircraft with one of his shoes in his hand, McLaughlin said.

The man tried to open one of the plane's rear doors and hit a flight attendant in the head with his fist when she tried to restrain him, McLaughlin said. The man opened the door, depressurizing the cabin, he said.

Two male passengers subdued the 6-foot-2-inch, 200-pound suspect and the pilot returned to the gate, McLaughlin said. The flight continued to Las Vegas.

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