Passenger tried to open emergency door mid-flight and stab crew with metal spoon

A Massachusetts resident attempted to open an emergency exit in the middle of a United Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Boston, before proceeding to try to stab a flight attendant in the neck with the broken handle of a metal spoon when he was stopped, according to federal prosecutors.

The alarm was triggered in the cockpit of the early morning Flight 2609 when the flight crew noticed that the side door was unlocked. An investigation revealed that the handle had been moved around a quarter of the way towards the unlocked position and the emergency slide arming lever had been set to ‘disarmed’.

33-year-old Francisco Severo Torres was identified as the suspect and when a flight attendant confronted him, Torres asked if cameras had observed him tampering with the door. He was then reported as a potential risk to the aircraft and the captain was advised to land the plane as soon as possible.

The FBI’s affidavit reports that Torres then approached another flight attendant with a shiny object in his right hand and thrust it at her with a stabbing motion, hitting her on the collar and tie three times. Passengers stepped in to tackle Torres and restrain him with the help of the flight crew.

The FBI interviewed multiple passengers who reported seeing Torres with something shiny in his right hand, as well as asking about the door handle during a preflight safety briefing. Another passenger reported observing the flight attendant’s confrontation with Torres and seeing him try to stab the attendant, before taking him to the floor and restraining him with the help of other passengers.

The metal object used to attack the flight attendant was later identified as the handle portion of a metal spoon, from which the bowl portion had been broken off. Torres confessed to investigators that he had broken the spoon in half to make a weapon and attempted to open the emergency exit door, admitting that he was aware that many people would die if he had been successful.

He is being charged with interference and attempted interference with flight crew members and attendants using a dangerous weapon, which carries the possibility of life imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. He has been ordered detained pending a hearing set for Thursday.