FBI: Unruly passenger had four drinks, assaulted flight crew members

By: Brittney Donovan

Updated:

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A man who was taken into federal custody after putting a fellow passenger in a headlock on a plane is charged with assaulting flight crew members, authorities say.

Joseph Michael Sharkey, 36, had four alcoholic drinks during a flight from Washington, D.C., to Jacksonville before he began to fight with a passenger sitting behind him, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Sharkey got out of his seat and put the passenger in a headlock, according to a criminal complaint.

A flight attendant ordered him to return to his seat and he obeyed but then tried to leave the plane while it was in flight, according to the report.

Sharkey also told the flight attendant he was a federal air marshal and the flight crew was under investigation, the report stated.

He tried to walk to an exit door and pushed the flight attendant who tried to stop him, according to officials.

Sharkey also kneed the flight attendant in the groin.

Two flight attendants enlisted the help of volunteers, subdued Sharkey and put him in flex cuffs for the remainder of the flight, according to the report.

Sharkey continued to "act in a belligerent fashion" and had to be watched during landing, according to officials.

The report stated the flight attendants were unable to perform their regular duties after Sharkey's assault.

The passenger who was assaulted said Sharkey attacked him for no apparent reason.

The airplane landed safely at Jacksonville International Airport and Sharkey was removed from the flight by airport police.

Sharkey made his initial appearance in Jacksonville Monday.

He will be detained until his formal detention hearing, which has been scheduled for Feb. 3.

This case was investigated by the Jacksonville Aviation Authority Police Department and the FBI's Jacksonville Division.

It will be prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dale Campion.

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