Man arrested after trying to stab flight attendant, open exit door mid-flight: authorities

Click to play video: 'Man arrested after trying to stab flight attendant, open emergency door during flight'
Man arrested after trying to stab flight attendant, open emergency door during flight
Man arrested after trying to stab flight attendant, open emergency door during flight – Mar 7, 2023

Chaos erupted on a United Airlines flight Sunday when a Massachusetts man allegedly stabbed a flight attendant after attempting to open an emergency exit in mid-air.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said 33-year-old Francisco Severo Torres was arrested at Boston Logan International Airport after the flight touched down from Los Angeles. He’s been charged with one count of interference and attempted interference with flight crew members and attendants using a dangerous weapon.

Torres allegedly attempted to open the airplane’s emergency escape door about 45 minutes prior to landing in Boston. An alarm in the cockpit alerted flight attendants to the exit door, where they discovered the locking handle had been tampered with. One staff member said they’d witnessed Torres touch the door.

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One passenger also claimed Torres asked another traveller to locate the door handle for the emergency exit on a safety card during the flight attendant’s pre-takeoff safety briefing.

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When confronted by flight staff about the escape door, Torres reportedly asked if there were any security cameras showing he had tampered with the lock mechanism.

The flight attendant then notified the pilot that they believed Torres posed a threat to the aircraft.

Shortly after, the U.S. justice department alleges Torres stood from his seat and approached two flight attendants standing in the plane’s aisle. The agency claims Torres “thrust” towards one of the flight attendants with a “stabbing motion.” Using a broken metal spoon, Torres allegedly “hit” the flight attendant in the neck area three times.

Passengers and other flight crew members tackled and restrained Torres. He was taken into immediate custody upon landing.

No one was seriously injured.


The Association of Flight Attendants released a statement about the incident on Monday and praised the United Airlines flight crew.

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“Violence has no place anywhere and certainly not in a closed cabin flying several miles in the air,” the association wrote.

“When incidents like this happen, it not only risks the safety of the crew involved, it takes away from Flight Attendants’ ability to respond to medical, safety, or security emergencies. Bottom line: it puts everyone at risk and there’s zero tolerance for that.”

The charges against Torres carry a possible life prison sentence, with up to five years of supervised release and a maximum fine of US$250,000.

Torres is scheduled to appear in court on March 9.

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