Feds Investigate Airplane Brawl
The FBI is looking into a bizarre and frightening incident aboard a commercial jet heading from Houston to Omaha last Friday involving an unstable passenger.
It began with a middle-aged man leaving the plane's lavatory covered in his own feces. "Oh, it was awful. It was worse than that."
Stacey, from Houston, who asked that we not use her last name, says the small commuter jet had just one flight attendant in the cabin, a young man who moved the other passengers forward to empty seats and kept the unkept passenger in the back row.
"I heard all of this ruckus and yelling and I kind of turned around and the poor flight attendant is on his back and the guy is like punching him and I'm like, oh my gosh. It's almost like a scene out of a movie. There were two male passengers behind me that got up and kind of got the guy off of him. The poor steward, he's got a black eye, his eye's swelling. I felt sorry for him."
The injured attendant, with help from the passengers, got the unruly passenger buckled in and calmed down for landing at Eppley Airfield.
The U.S. attorney says the man was not arrested, but detained at the airport by authorities until picked up by trained professionals from a care facility in Iowa.
"Certainly there was a disturbance,” says U.S. Attorney Joe Stecher. “That disturbance was loud. It did get physical. It did get violent. We're glad it came to the conclusion that it did, but I can certainly understand anybody on that plane being upset by what they saw."
Stecher says proving criminal intent may be difficult because of the passenger's mental state. Why he was allowed to fly unsupervised may be a more important result of the FBI investigation.
Airlines are provided lists of people restricted from flying. The passenger's name was not on any of those lists. However, the U.S. attorney will look into what kind of mental treatment the man has been undergoing and whether that should have kept him from flying.