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LUBBOCK, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) — A Las Vegas man who was a passenger on American Airlines flight 2542 early Thursday morning in route from Ontario, California, to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, which was diverted to Lubbock, has been charged in a federal criminal complaint with interference with a flight crew.
The office of U.S Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas said, Jerry Ba Nguyen, remained detained after his initial court appearance Friday, pending a detention hearing.
According to the complaint, Nguyen, 24, “knowingly interfered and attempted to interfere with the performance of the duties of a flight crew member and flight attendant, lessening their ability to perform their duties, by assaulting and intimidating the flight attendant and flight crew member by refusing to comply with instructions from flight attendants and attempting to forcibly enter the cockpit.”
Nguyen came to the attention of the flight attendants as the plane was leaving the gate in Ontario, appearing agitated and walking toward the front of the aircraft as it prepared to take off, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office news release.
The release goes on to explain how thing escalated during the flight:
Flight attendants were able to calm him down, and the plane departed. After takeoff, however, Nguyen’s erratic behavior continued; he mumbled that the SIM card had been stolen from his phone and he made suicidal statements. He also stated that the police were not his friends, and the U.S. government was responsible for the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Nguyen was asked to remain in his seat by the flight crew on multiple occasions, but refused. Flight attendants were so concerned about his behavior that they recruited several passengers to assist with physically restraining Nguyen if it became necessary.
Upon final approach, Nguyen walked to the front of the aircraft and began banging on and kicking the cockpit door. He was subdued by passengers at the request of the flight crew and then restrained with flex cuffs provided by the flight attendants,
The Captain declared an emergency and diverted the flight to Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport, where it landed safely. Nguyen was removed from the plane and taken into custody
The maximum statutory penalty for the offense of interfering with a flight crew is 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.
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