A Southwest Airlines flight from Chicago to Sacramento was forced to land in Nebraska Sunday after a man became unruly and tried to open one of the plane’s back hatches.
“Some gentleman just decided that he wanted us to visit the Lord today, and decided to open up the back hatch of Southwest Airlines flight while we were already up in the air,” Monique Lawler from Diamond Bar, Calif., told KABC-TV after the plane landed safely at its intended destination two hours late.
Lawler added that the man, who was not yet identified by name, was acting strangely before he tried to open the door. At one point, he emerged from the plane’s bathroom soaking wet.
When he started to open the hatch, a flight attendant and passengers screamed for help, prompting a male passenger to jump up and take the suspect down, KABC reported.
“He kind of subdued him, held him down, and he tried a couple of times to open up the back hatch,” Lawler told the news station, adding that they “were applauding the gentlemen.”
Dr. Scott Porter was one of a few men who jumped up to tackle the suspect.
“He was going to do bad things to the plane, so it was pretty scary,” Porter told KCRA-TV. “We basically tackled […] the guy who was back there and then pinned him down. I got the sense he was probably on some sort of drugs or that he was psychotic.”
“You got this bad feeling that wasn’t going right, especially when a bunch of big guys got up and immediately jumped into the aisle and ran to the back of the plane,” passenger Lori Depalma added to KCRA about the incident.
Watch KABC’s report:
Officials boarded the plane when it landed in Omaha and arrested the suspect. The plane was then allowed to continue on to Sacramento.