Two passengers attack pilot on plane bound for SFO

July 28, 2011 12:11:04 PM PDT
Two men arrested after a fight with a pilot on a flight from Miami to San Francisco will appear in court today to face federal charges of assault and battery.

Witnesses say two brothers, Jonathan and Luis Baez, had been acting like they were drunk or drugged. Another passenger said one of the men had just had surgery and was on painkillers. One of the brothers was sleeping and would not wakeup to buckle his seatbelt. A flight attendant notified the pilot who decided to pull back to the gate. The brothers were being told by the pilot to leave the plane at the gate in Miami when passengers said the men turned violent on the pilot.

"The guy that was ill just walked right up to the captain and he just went bam and he just slapped him really hard, and the captain was stunned, and so was everybody on the plane," said Cynthia Austin of Jacksonville.

Police say Luis Baez told the pilot 'When you fly to San Juan, I will have you killed.' According to the arrest affidavit, the pilot's vision was blurry from the punch and investigators say he possibly has permanent damage to his left eye. But he continued to follow the men off the plane, to make sure they exited properly. Inside the airport, police say the men jumped the pilot.

"The captain's whole side of his face was bruised and bloodied and they got ice and tried to ice it down, but those two guys had him down on the ground and I mean they were beating the crap out of him," said Austin.

That's when the passengers decided to get involved.

"There was a scuffle that took place, so about three or four of us went out there and tackled the guys. There were two of them and I guess the pilot ended up with some contusions on his face. So we just did what we needed to do to help out," said flight passenger Ken Venting of Scotts Valley.

One man took pictures of the passengers holding down the suspects inside the airport. Witnesses say it took about 10 minutes before police came and arrested them. Some of the 178 passengers are calling the men who held down the suspects, heroes. But they shake off the praise.

"It was just natural, it was just no big deal. You know just doing my duty," said Venting.

The pilot did not make the flight to SFO.


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