United Airlines Passenger Tried To Open Emergency Exit Midflight, Stab Crewmember In Neck

On Sunday a passenger on board United Airlines flight 2609 from Los Angeles to Boston partially disarmed the emergency exit door, attempting to open it, and then tried to stab a cabin crewmember in the neck.

The passenger has been charged with

  • interference with flight crew members using a dangerous weapon
  • attempted interference with flight crew members using a dangerous weapon

About 45 minutes prior to arrival, or around 3:30 p.m. local time in Boston, pilots noticed the alarm for the “a starboard side door located between the first class and coach sections” of the Boeing 757 had disarmed. The handle on the door had been moved approximately a quarter of the way towards unclocked, and “the emergency slide arming lever had been moved to the “disarmed” position.”

The doors and slide were secured. Another crewmember reported seeing the passenger near that door, and believed that he had been trying to open it. The passenger didn’t deny it – just asked if there was any evidence?

A flight attendant then confronted Torres about tampering with the door, to which he allegedly responded by asking if there were cameras showing that he had done so. According to court documents, the flight attendant then notified the captain that they believed Torres posed a threat to the aircraft and that the captain needed to land the aircraft as soon as possible.

The man approached a flight attendant near the door shortly after, and tried to stab them with “a broken metal spoon” – and hit them on the neck three times. Passengers went to town on the man and restrained him.

The passenger was arrested on arrival in Boston, and has been detained pending a hearing which is scheduled to occur on Thursday. Others on the aircraft were interviewed about the incident and it turns out the man asked more than one how to commit the crime?

It is alleged that during subsequent interviews, passengers who were aboard the flight reported that Torres asked a fellow passenger where on the safety card it showed where the door handle was located during the flight attendants’ safety briefing prior to takeoff and that Torres was seen pacing in a galley before attacking the flight attendant.

He faces a maximum penalty of life imprisonment as well as a $250,000 fine.

Update: Here’s the criminal complaint that was filed.

As for motive in the stabbing:

Hopefully the flight attendant is alright. We haven’t yet seen a statement from United.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Every seat on that plane occupied – none of them chimed in to say yes he was fiddling with the door…odd.

    Now to figure out the broken metal spoon source

  2. 9 out of 10 adults Americans believe there is a mental health crisis in this country. That tells a lot.

  3. As Gary’s writethru omits the suspect’s full name, age, etc. and refers to him only as “Torres,” note the complete ID is Francisco Severo Torres, 33, of Leominster, Massachusetts.

  4. Was this the “version 1” 757-200 config on the right-hand side of the aircraft (i.e. 2R door?) I don’t see how this would have been possible at 2L or 2R on any other UA 757 config without being in full view of at least 2/3 of the economy cabin while trying to mess with the door. That seems like the kind of thing that would get you detained pretty quickly in the post-9/11 world.

  5. He should have waited until the plane was 10 minutes from landing before attempting to open the door. By then, the pressure would likely be low enough that the door would open.

  6. I’m with @Santastico. This clearly illustrates that there is a mental health crisis in the U.S.. Unless he was on some serious drugs it’s unlikely the guy did this for kicks. Unlike others, though, he has proven himself to be a danger to both himself and others so setting him loose with some meds doesn’t seem like a great idea.

  7. There will never be another 9/11 in this country because passengers have zero tolerance for this nonsense.

    Personally I’d like to see them kick the crap out of anyone like this. It would not do much good as most are mental or intoxicated, but would send a message.

    Do we need a mental health database to add nutcases to the no fly list?

  8. What about this guy’s rights? It was in self-defense. As a sovereign person, who has not permitted the government to restrict his right to bear arms, he would have had a gun with him. But, the Deep State Lefties and their TSA puppets unconstitutionally denied this guy’s right to carry a firearm on board. So, all he could do is use the spoon. And, the passengers who jumped him are Deep State puppets. Undoubtedly, he will be arraigned and tried in a court with an American flag bearing fringe, which is secretly a military tribunal. Do you not see that this is a set-up? What is the matter with you people?

    (Sorry. It’s Monday night and there’s no football.)

  9. In all seriousness, this could have happened on any flight and blowing the hatch might have been seconds away. The question is: when this happens on YOUR flight, do YOU know what YOU are willing to do and are YOU ready to react?

  10. A proper beatdown will do him some good as it does with most who bump their gums before thinking of the consequences. Hopefully, it knocked some common sense into him.

  11. Thank you @Tom. It’s also a safe bet that he’s not from Leominister given the insane amounts human trafficking from Central America to Massachusetts. Gary’s bias is showing as he always does in these situations.

  12. How ’bout I usually don’t mention passenger full names especially in a cash where someone has been charged but not convicted and available details on their background don’t obviously show insight into the situation

  13. When a suspect is arrested and charged his/her name becomes public record and is commonly used by news organizations. Would you have covered the recent Alex Murdaugh murder trial without mentioning the defendant’s name?

    At any rate you did reveal the suspect’s surname by clipping / pasting second-para content from primary news sources, but neglected to fill in the blanks, leaving your readers to wonder who “Torres” is — maybe one of those single-name celebrities like Cher or Bono.

    Clarity — and good journalistic practice — demand that you either name the individual you are blogging about, or conceal the identity and explain why.

  14. @Lee yes I’ve thought about what to do. Take off my belt and get it around the perps neck. Pull tight, then yank perp to the floor. Then let my cowboy boots work over his head.

  15. @Chad you robbed my line.. The left can’t even meme and fail miserable on humor. They are the joke.

  16. Starting at which height is the pressure low enough to open the door? Because until then you need a hulks strength to open that door inflight.

  17. I’m sure TSA will now be removing spoons from all airline catering. I’m just glad this did not turn out worse.

  18. @Rog as a Venezuelan I can’t vote yet, hope to become citizen one day. And as a communism survivor of course I will vote for any option against your party, where an openly communist like Bernie Sanders belongs. And you ppl had the nerve to even nominate it for President.

  19. This was a serious situation but let’s not blow it out of proportion. At this altitude all the experts agree that it would be physically I
    Possible for any human to open the hatch in flight. Detain the guy using zip ties and continue on to the FINAL destination. Why inconvenience all the other passengers on board by diverting. At that point the guy is going nowhere.

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