Defendant also allegedly attempted to stab a flight attendant in the neck
BOSTON – A Leominster, Mass. man has been arrested and charged for allegedly attempting to open an emergency exit door while aboard a United Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Boston and then allegedly attempting to stab a flight attendant in the neck.
Francisco Severo Torres, 33, was charged with one count of interference and attempted interference with flight crew members and attendants using a dangerous weapon. Torres was arrested last evening at Boston Logan International Airport and, following an initial appearance today before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Dein, was detained pending a hearing set for March 9, 2023.
According to the charging documents, on March 5, 2023, Torres was a passenger aboard a United Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Boston. Approximately 45 minutes prior to landing, the flight crew received an alarm in the cockpit that a starboard side door located between the first class and coach sections of the aircraft was disarmed. Upon inspection, a flight attendant found that the door’s locking handle had been moved out of the fully locked position – approximately a quarter of the way towards the towards the unlocked position – and that the emergency slide arming lever had been moved to the “disarmed” position. The flight attendant reported this to the captain and flight crew after securing the door and emergency slide.
In subsequent discussions, a fellow flight attendant reported that he had observed Torres near the door and believed Torres had tampered with the door. 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.
Shortly thereafter, it is alleged that Torres got out of his seat and approached the starboard side door where two flight attendants were standing in the aisle. One of the flight attendants saw Torres mouthing something that he could not hear. Torres then allegedly thrust towards one of the flight attendants in a stabbing motion with a broken metal spoon, hitting the flight attendant on the neck area three times. Passengers then tackled Torres and he was restrained with the assistance of flight crew. Torres was immediately taken into custody upon the flight’s arrival to Boston.
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.
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.
United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division; John E. Mawn Jr., Interim Colonel of the Massachusetts State Police; and Boston Police Commissioner Michael Cox made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Elianna J. Nuzum of Rollins’ Major Crimes Unit is prosecuting the case.
The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.