A passenger who allegedly punched a flight attendant in the back of the head during an American Airlines flight from Mexico to Los Angeles was taken into custody after the plane landed Wednesday,.
The carrier said in a statement that the incident happened on Flight 377 from San José del Cabo to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
The FBI, which is handling the investigation since the alleged assault happened in-flight, said the man was detained on suspicion of interfering with a flight crew, a federal offense.
Video taken by a passenger, Barrie Livingstone, shows the flight attendant standing in the aisle, facing the back of the plane, asking a passenger, “Are you threatening me. Are you threatening me?” He then turns around and starts heading for the front of the plane.
At that point, a passenger is seen rushing up to him and punching him, hard, before returning to his seat.
A producer for CBS San Diego affiliate KFMB-TV, Malik Earnest, who was on board, cited “witnesses” who said fellow passengers “helped restrain” the suspect until the flight landed. He was led off the plane by the Los Angeles Airport Police.
His identity was not immediately released.
American Airlines issued a statement saying the passenger “physically assaulted a flight attendant” and “will never be allowed to travel with us in the future.”
The Association of Professional Flight attendants, a union that represents more than 24,000 flight attendants at American Airlines, also responded publicly to the alleged assault in a statement released on Thursday. The organization called the incident “dangerous,” “life-threatening” and part of a pattern of similar situations that put flight attendants at risk.
“This violent behavior puts the safety of all passengers and crew in jeopardy and must stop,” said Julie Hendrick, the national president of AFPA. “APFA fully supports the affected crew members, and will do everything possible to ensure that the passenger faces prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.”