BOSTON – A Leominster man was arrested for allegedly attempting to open an emergency exit door while aboard a United Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Boston on Sunday, and then attempting to stab a flight attendant in the neck.
According to court documents cited by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts, about 45 minutes prior to landing, Francisco Severo Torres, 33, of Leominster, disarmed an emergency exit door on the right side of the plane between the first class and coach sections of the aircraft, which set off an alarm in the cockpit, alerting the captain and flight crew.
A flight attendant inspected the door and found that the door’s locking handle had been moved out of the fully locked position and the emergency slide arming lever had been moved to the “disarmed” position. The flight attendant secured the door and reported the aforementioned to the captain and flight crew.
After this information came to light, another flight attendant said he observed Torres near the door and believed he was tampering with it. A flight attendant then asked Torres if he had tampered with the door. Torres is alleged to have responded by asking if there was security camera footage of him doing so. According to court documents, the flight attendant that confronted Torres then told the captain that they believed Torres posed a threat to the aircraft, suggesting that the captain should land the plane as soon as possible.
Shortly thereafter, Torres allegedly got out of his seat, approached two flight attendants standing in the aisle, and attempted to stab one of them with a broken metal spoon. According to court documents cited by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts, Torres hit the flight attendant on the neck-area three times with the spoon. A group of passengers then tackled Torres and restrained him with assistance from the flight crew. Torres was immediately taken into custody when the plane arrived at Logan Airport that evening.
In subsequent interviews with those on the flight, several people said that Torres had asked a passenger to point out where the door handle was on the safety card during the flight attendant’s safety briefing prior to takeoff. Torres was also seen pacing in a galley before attacking the flight attendant.
Torres was charged with one count of interference and attempted interference with flight crew members and attendants using a dangerous weapon. He was arraigned in federal court in Boston by U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Dein. Following his arraignment, he was detained pending a hearing scheduled for March 9.
If convicted, Torres could face up to a life sentence in prison.
The charge of interference and attempted interference with flight crew members and attendants using a dangerous weapon provides for a sentence of up to life in prison, up to five years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.
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