Cliff Pinckard, cleveland.com
KANSAS CITY, Missouri — An “unruly” passenger tried to get into the cockpit of an American Airlines flight to Washington, D.C., on Sunday, forcing the plane to make an emergency landing in Kansas City.
The FBI released a statement saying the passenger was taken into custody after the plane landed at Kansas City International Airport. The flight had originated from Los Angeles at 11:28 a.m. and landed in Kansas City at 2:28 p.m., the Kansas City Star reports.
Witnesses tell the New York Times the passenger first tried to enter the cockpit of Flight 1775, then tried to open an exit door on the plane. Members of the crew and other passengers managed to subdue the male suspect. A passenger tells CNN that a flight attendant hit the man on the head with a coffee pot.
NBC Washington obtained video that showed passengers and crew subduing the suspect. One of the passengers, Carlos Rojas, tells NBC Washington the suspect appeared aggravated and disoriented.
“It wasn’t too scary only because I didn’t really know what was happening until it was happening,” Rojas tells NBC Washington.
Air Force Reserve Maj. Carlos Rojas said he was watching a movie when the passenger began to be disruptive, according to Task and Purpose.
Rojas says a man, who identified himself as an Army officer, tried to help flight attendants subdue the unruly passenger but needed help.
“He came back and actually grabbed me and said, ‘Hey, I need your help,’” said Rojas, who is assigned to the 701st Combat Operations Squadron at March Air Reserve Base, California. “And that’s kind of how I got involved.”
Task and Purpose was able to confirm the identity of the Army officer as “Peter,” an Army active-duty lieutenant colonel who wished to remain anonymous.
passengers held the individual and a flight attendant used a coffee pot to subdue him as the plane descended rapidly. the man was bleeding as the police in this video are taking him off the flight after landing in Kansas #AA1775 pic.twitter.com/HL2JnyYglw— Mouaz Moustafa (@SoccerMouaz) February 13, 2022
“Once Peter grabbed me, I went up to the front and helped him restrain the suspect, if you want to call him that, or the gentleman who was trying to open the door,” Rojas told Task & Purpose. “The flight attendants had done a good job of getting him away from the door, but he was still close to it and the handle was still open. So, as we were restraining the gentleman, one of the flight attendants was able to squeeze by me and shut the door handle.”
There were no reports of injuries.
The suspect was identified on Monday as 50-year-old Juan Remberto Rivas. He has been charged with “assaulting and intimidating a flight attendant and thereby interfering in the performance of the flight attendant’s duties,” a Justice Department news release says.