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FBI: Man tried to open exit door during flight to Portland

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 06:13 p.m. HST, May 27, 2013

PORTLAND, Ore. >> A passenger on a commercial flight from Alaska to Oregon was arrested today after witnesses say he tried to open an emergency exit during the plane's descent and other passengers had to help restrain him using shoelaces and seat-belt extensions.

Passengers and crew aboard the Alaska Airlines flight from Anchorage to Portland told investigators that 23-year-old Alexander Michael Herrera made "unusual statements" before trying to open the plane's door Monday morning, FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele said.

Flight 132 was preparing to land at Portland International Airport when the Arizona man set off an alarm by pulling the door handle in the emergency-exit row, Steele said.

Witness Henry Pignataro told KGW-TV that a woman seated next to Herrera asked for help.

"I put him in a choke hold and brought him down to the ground," Pignataro said.

Pignataro said he and another man held down the passenger and asked flight attendants for restraints. He said they brought three sets of shoelaces, which Pignataro and the other man used to bind Herrera's legs.

The flight attendants then brought extra seatbelt extensions, and the witnesses applied those to Herrera, as well.

Pignataro said Herrera — listed as 220 pounds in his booking information — was then placed into a seat, where he calmly sat "surrounded by big guys" until the plane landed only nine minutes behind schedule.

Herrera was being booked into a Portland jail on a charge of interfering with a flight crew, and was expected to make his first court appearance Tuesday before a federal magistrate. It wasn't immediately known if he had an attorney.

Steele said Herrera was from Arizona, but she didn't know his home city.

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Aquarius1 wrote:
In the words of a serial blogger, "Yikes, scary".
on May 27,2013 | 12:04PM
Mythman wrote:
come on, now hon
on May 27,2013 | 03:56PM
IAmSane wrote:
Dangerous skyside, hon.
on May 27,2013 | 04:10PM
Bdpapa wrote:
Dangerous North side! Yikes
on May 28,2013 | 06:34AM
loquaciousone wrote:
Now who are you all referring too. I don't get it.
on May 28,2013 | 07:34AM
livinginhawaii wrote:
If I was in that situation I don't know if I could resist the urge to beat the life out of this guy for attempting to kill innocent people...
on May 27,2013 | 12:37PM
Surfer_Dude wrote:
There is no "door" at row 17. There is an emergency exit "window", not a door. This was a Boeing 737/900. The emergency doors are two behind row 4 and two behind row 33. This man was seated in the emergency exit row and briefed by the flight crew on how to operate the emergency exit window. They can never be opened in flight otherwise every nut job on the planet will want to sit there. Headline and story content should be changed to indicate this was the window exit and not the hinged door used to enter the aircraft.
on May 27,2013 | 01:13PM
Mythman wrote:
i love the facts.....
on May 27,2013 | 03:56PM
serious wrote:
Notice on all of these inflight instances it's the passengers who take control. What's wrong with the crew? They should be trained for this sort of thing--us a taser if they are not physically able to control the person.
on May 27,2013 | 03:26PM
Kate53 wrote:
First, there aren't enough flight crew to hold vigil over every row in case someone goes nuts. So some passengers had to help out -- they were right there and their lives were in danger, so of course it's their responsibility to help, especially those people in the emergency exit rows -- you have to agree to help in an emergency instead of running away or hiding your head in the sand. There's also no room in the aisle for all the flight crew, passengers, nutjob and rubber neckers, so how are the crew to take control if they can't get there in the first place? Someone watches too many FICTITIOUS movies.
on May 28,2013 | 06:34AM
Maunawiliboy wrote:
Sky marshals
on May 27,2013 | 08:47PM
Hawaiians wrote:
Good jobs for retired Vets.
on May 27,2013 | 08:57PM
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