Federal authorities arrested a man Wednesday after he tried to get into the cockpit of a JetBlue plane traveling from Boston to Puerto Rico and attacked flight attendants, WFXT reported.
In a statement obtained by WFXT, FBI officials said they arrested Khalil El Dahr on a charge of interference with flight crew members and attendants. El Dahr is a U.S. citizen who lives in Puerto Rico, according to WFXT.
The incident happened on a flight that departed Boston around 5 p.m. Wednesday for San Juan, Puerto Rico, according to an affidavit obtained by WFXT.
A JetBlue flight attendant told authorities that El Dahr got angry just over an hour before the plane was set to land when he tried to make a phone call that failed to connect. About 30 minutes later, he rushed toward the cockpit “yelling to be shot,” according to the affidavit.
The flight attendant said they managed to corral him in an area in front of the front row of seats, before the galley. When a flight crew officer opened the cockpit door nearby, El Dahr grabbed the flight attendant by their collar and tie and kicked them in the chest, according to affidavit. He yelled for the flight crew officer to shoot him as he continued to hold onto the flight attendant’s tie, restricting their breathing. The flight attendant released El Dahr long enough to loosen their tie before grabbing the man again to keep him from getting into the flight deck.
“The struggle continued until six… or seven… flight crew members were able to restrain (El Dahr) using makeshift restraints, which included the Jet Blue (flight attendant’s) tie around (El Dahr’s) ankles and seat belt extenders around (El Dahr’s) torso,” FBI Special Agent William Lopez said in the affidavit. “(El Dahr) was moved to the rear of the plane and restrained to a seat until the flight concluded.”
Another JetBlue flight attendant told authorities that four seat belt extenders were used to secure El Dahr, along with a set of flex cuffs provided by an off-duty flight attendant on the flight. The fight attendant told investigators that El Dahr struggled so hard that he was able to break the cuffs and free himself before they were able to secure him.
Authorities arrested El Dahr after the plane landed in San Juan.
“The FBI takes these matters very seriously and we evaluate every possible angle, to ensure public safety,” the FBI said in a statement, according to WFXT. “Because this is an ongoing investigation, we will refrain from making any further comments at this time.”
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