Bay Area man hailed as hero after detaining suspect at Chicago airport

PLEASANT HILL, Calif. (KGO) -- A Bay Area man is something of a hero after he intervened in an incident at Midway International Airport in Chicago.

We've all heard the stories of unruly airline passengers. This latest was a San Francisco man taken into custody by Chicago police, accused of assaulting an airline supervisor. Those officers had help from someone used to dicey situations who stepped in when no one else would.

"I saw a threat and I knew that it had to be stopped," said Maz Barbari.

Maz's 20 years with the San Francisco Sheriff's Department kicked in at Chicago's airport Wednesday night. An unruly passenger in the boarding area allegedly punched a Southwest Airlines employee and the off-duty deputy jumped in.

He says his level of awareness was heightened by the mass killings in San Bernardino.

"It was playing all over the airport and I had my family with me so I wanted to make sure that this individual was not on the flight," he said.

Maz is assigned to the psych ward at San Francisco General Hospital and red flags were raised when the man began making odd comments.

Southwest says the incident occurred after the SFO-bound passenger missed his flight because he arrived late at the gate. Sarah Barbari says she knew her husband would be the one to intervene.

"So I'm proud of him," she said. "I'm glad he did it. It was a little intense."

He held the man in a twist lock until Chicago police arrived.

"A few people who were sitting in the area that it happened said thank you and applauded. I was getting treated pretty well by the Southwest attendants on the flight," he said.

And back in Pleasant Hill, Maz is more than a husband and father, he's a hero.

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