- A man was arrested and charged after officials say he tried to stab a flight attendant on a United flight.
- Francisco Severo Torres told authorities he made a weapon out of a broken metal spoon.
- Passengers and flight crew were eventually able to tackle and restrain Torres.
A Massachusetts man was arrested and charged this week after authorities say he wreaked havoc on a United Airlines flight by attempting to open the emergency exit door and trying to stab a flight attendant in the neck with a broken metal spoon.
Francisco Severo Torres, 33, was charged with one count of interference and attempted interference with flight crew members using a dangerous weapon, according to the Department of Justice. Authorities arrested Torres on Sunday after he touched down at Boston Logan International Airport following the frenzied flight.
Approximately 45 minutes before the United plane was scheduled to land, flight crew aboard the Los Angeles to Boston flight received an unwelcome alert: the starboard side door in between first class and coach had been disarmed, according to court documents obtained by Insider.
A flight attendant investigated and found the handle had been moved toward the unlocked position, prosecutors said. Another flight attendant said he had previously seen Torres near the door, prompting members of the flight crew to confront Torres and ask whether he was behind the tampering, according to investigators.
Torres responded to their questions by asking whether there were any cameras that had caught him touching the door, prosecutors said.
Flight crew told the captain about the encounter with Torres, suggesting the pilot land the aircraft as soon as possible due to the possible threat posed by Torres, according to court documents.
The saga was just beginning, however. Investigators say Torres then left his seat and approached two flight attendants who were standing in the aisle. One of the crew members said they saw Torres mouthing something before he thrust toward one of the attendants in a stabbing motion with a metal object, hitting the flight attendant on his shirt and tie three times, according to court documents.
A group of passengers helped tackle Torres to the ground where he was restrained, officials said. Investigators later determined that the metal object Torres used to attack the flight attendant was a metal spoon that had the bowl broken off, according to prosecutors.
The Association of Flight Attendants said in Monday statement that the union was “very proud” of the crew aboard the United flight, and “relieved” that no one sustained life-threatening injuries.
Passengers told investigators they saw Torres pacing back and forth in the galley early on in the flight, and another witness said they had seen something shiny in Torres’ hand. The passenger sitting next to Torres said he leaned over during the safety briefing to ask where on the safety card there was information about the handle on the emergency exit door, per court records.
Torres later told investigators that he went to the bathroom during the flight to make the spoon weapon, and said he tried to disarm the exit door because he wanted to jump out of the plane, according to court documents.
Torres admitted to knowing that if he opened the door many people would die, prosecutors said. He told authorities he had tried to stab one of the flight attendants out of self-defense because he believed the crew member was trying to kill him, according to prosecutors.
According to court records, in 2022, Torres sued a Massachusetts hospital specializing in psychological and substance abuse care, alleging they refused to serve him Vegan food.
A spokesperson for United did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.