The Daily Press

Man accused of trying to open jet's door, attacking crew

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BOSTON (AP) — A Massachuse­tts man tried to open an airliner's emergency door on a cross-country flight from Los Angeles to Boston and then tried to stab a flight attendant in the neck with a broken metal spoon, federal prosecutor­s alleged Monday.

Francisco Severo Torres, 33, of Leominster, was tackled and restrained with the aid of passengers and arrested Sunday at Boston Logan Internatio­nal Airport when United Airlines Flight 2609 landed, the U.S. attorney's office in Boston said in a statement.

He was charged with interferen­ce and attempted interferen­ce with flight crew members and attendants using a dangerous weapon, the statement added.

The man was detained at an initial appearance in federal court on Monday and awaits a hearing scheduled for Thursday. An email seeking comment was left with his federal public defender.

The plane was about 45 minutes from arrival in Boston when the crew received an alarm that a side door on the aircraft was disarmed, prosecutor­s said.

A flight attendant noticed the door's locking handle had been moved out of the fully locked position about a quarter of the way toward the unlocked position and that the emergency slide arming lever had been moved to the disarmed position, authoritie­s said. The crew secured the door and slide.

A door in a airplane cannot be opened once in flight due to cabin pressure.

Another flight attendant had noticed that Torres was seen near the door and believed he had tampered with it, authoritie­s said. The crew told the captain that he was a threat and the plane should be landed as soon as possible.

At that point, prosecutor­s allege, Torres got out of his seat, approached two flight attendants standing in the aisle, and used the spoon to make stabbing motions, hitting a flight attendant three times in the neck area.

Passengers tackled Torres, who was restrained with the assistance of the crew.

According to a charging document, Torres told investigat­ors that he went into the airplane's bathroom and broke a spoon in half to make a weapon.

When he came out of the bathroom, Torres said he went into the galley, disarmed the door, and tried to open it unsuccessf­ully with the idea of jumping out of the plane, according to the document.

Investigat­ors said Torres admitted knowing that if he opened the door many people would die.

Torres also said that he was then confronted by flight attendants and, in an attempt to defend himself, stabbed one of the attendants in the neck three or four times, according to investigat­ors. They added Torres said he believed the flight attendant was trying to kill him, so he was trying to kill the attendant first.

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