Passenger: 'You're all going to die'
Southwest flight makes emergency landing
Posted: October 18, 2011 - 10:42pm
By Joe Gamm
Somewhere in the heavens above Amarillo, angry shouts rang out from the back of Southwest Airlines Flight 3683.
“You’re all going to die,” a man dressed in black screamed at passengers Tuesday afternoon. “You’re all going to hell. Allahu Akbar,” translated as God is great in Arabic.
Federal authorities arrested Ali Reza Shahsavari, 29, of Indialantic, Fla., onboard the Boeing 737 after pilots made an emergency landing at Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport at 3:30 p.m. He is being held in the Randall County jail on a federal charge of interfering with a flight crew.
None of the 136 passengers and five crew members on the flight from Los Angeles to Kansas City was hurt, said Brad Hawkins, spokesman for Dallas-based Southwest.
Police said the incident began with Shahsavari arguing with another passenger. The flight crew separated the men, said Amarillo police Cpl. Jerry Neufeld.
Shahsavari went into a bathroom and yelled obscenities from the rear of the plane, said passenger Doug Oerding, of Sacramento, Calif. Attendants tried to calm Shahsavari before a female flight attendant finally succeeded in quieting him. Oerding said.
As the tension mounted, the aircraft began to gain speed and descend, Oerding said. The slender Navy veteran said he put his shoes back on in preparation to act.
“All of us guys were looking at him like, ‘Are we going to have to do something?’” Oerding said after finishing a cigarette outside the Amarillo terminal while waiting to reboard the plane.
Amarillo Aviation Director Patrick Rhodes said an emergency call was placed about 3:30 p.m. to the control tower at Rick Husband. The caller initially reported a male passenger was attempting to break into the cockpit, Rhodes said. Amarillo police said the call came from the cockpit.
“He was being disruptive and unruly on the flight, but he was not specifically trying to break into the cockpit,” Rhodes said.