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Archive for Saturday, July 19, 2008

Flight diverted after man forcibly restrained

July 19, 2008

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— An American Airlines flight from Boston to Los Angeles was diverted to Oklahoma City on Friday after a passenger stripped nude and later tried to open an emergency exit door before being subdued by members of a professional soccer team and others, the FBI said.

Members of the New England Revolution of Major League Soccer were among those who grabbed the passenger near an exit door, FBI spokesman Gary Johnson said. Tie wraps were placed on the man, whose name was not immediately released. He was taken into custody in Oklahoma City and placed under psychiatric evaluation, Johnson said.

American Flight 725, a Boeing 757, arrived in Oklahoma City at 1:35 p.m. CDT and was back in the air an hour later, said American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith. It landed without further incident at Los Angeles International Airport at 3:13 p.m. PDT.

Craig Tornberg, the soccer team's general manager, said he confronted the man as soon as he saw him emerge naked from one of the plane's restrooms.

"I said he should get back into the bathroom and put on his clothes," Tornberg said after the plane landed in Los Angeles. "He said something strange to me. He said, 'I don't hear you. I don't see you."'

Still, the man complied and got dressed, Tornberg said, before he "made a beeline for the emergency door."

Tornberg said he, assistant coach Gwynne Williams and Michael Burns, the team's vice president for player personnel, grabbed the man and forced him into a seat as a flight attendant ran to get restraints.

The pilot diverted the flight to Will Rogers World Airport where the man was removed.

"He was taken into custody by the Oklahoma City Police Department and taken to a crisis center for a mental evaluation," Johnson said.

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