A passenger aboard a Honolulu-bound plane from Los Angeles International Airport, where he had earlier been arrested for going through a secure door, had to be subdued aboard the flight Friday when he allegedly caused a disturbance and may have tried to get into the cockpit.
American Airlines Flight 31, an Airbus A321 that left LAX around 8:30 a.m., landed safely in Honolulu at 11:35 a.m. Hawaii Standard Time, according to the airline.
“Due to a disturbance on the flight, the crew requested that law enforcement meet the aircraft upon landing in Honolulu,” according to the airline. “American is in touch with federal law enforcement.”
Citing an “active investigation,” the airline referred additional questions to the FBI’s Honolulu Division, which later reported that ” a disturbance aboard the flight alarmed flight crew to the point where an off- duty law enforcement officer and others subdued a passenger.”
“At this early stage, the FBI will not speculate about the nature of this event,” according to bureau statement that went on to add “the FBI is unaware of any other threats aboard American Airlines flights or other aircraft.”
A passenger on the flight posted a short video on Instagram of FBI agents leading the suspect off the plane in handcuffs. A message accompanying the video read: “Crazy! Someone tried to break into the cockpit on my flight from LA to Honolulu. We were greeted by the FBI. They are now taking us off the plane a few rows at a time for dog sniffing and interviews. I’ve never seen anything like this.”
According to reports out of Hawaii, some witnesses said the suspect was a Turkish man who had a shirt or blanket over his head and tried to make his way to the front of the plane, but was blocked by flight attendants.
Los Angeles Airport Police Public Information Officer Rob Pedregon confirmed that at about 2:45 a.m., a man identified as 25-year-old Anil Uskanil went through a door that led from the Terminal 5 concourse to an airfield ramp, but was spotted by a contractor and detained.
Uskanil was a ticketed American Airlines passenger who had cleared TSA screening, according to Pedregon.
Pedregon referred further questions to the FBI, but a source told CNS Uskanil was the same man who caused the disturbance on the Honolulu-bound flight.
“Airport police investigated and determined Uskanil had been drinking but did not meet the criteria for drunk in public,” Pedregon said. “A police K-9 searched and cleared the area.”
Uskanil was arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor trespassing, cited, given a court date and released, according to Pedregon.
According to a statement from Navy Cmdr. David Benham of U.S. Pacific Command, two F-22 Raptors from the Hawaii Air National Guard “scrambled this morning in response to a reported disturbance on a civilian airliner making an approach to Honolulu International Airport. The F-22s escorted the airliner to the airport in accordance with homeland defense procedures. Local law enforcement responded once the civilian airliner was on the ground.”
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security acknowledged in a statement that the suspect was detained and in custody.
The department “is prepared to assist other federal and local law enforcement agencies as they investigate the incident. At this time, there are no other reports of disruptions to flights. We continue to monitor all flights out of an abundance of caution and will provide updates as necessary,” according to the statement.
–City News Service
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