A man aboard a San Francisco-bound flight was detained Sunday night after he apparently tried to strangle a fellow passenger who had leaned her seat back shortly after the plane took off from Los Angeles International Airport, authorities and witnesses said.
Southwest Flight 2010 had been in the air for just over 10 minutes when around 10:43 p.m. the scuffle broke out between two passengers who were not traveling together, prompting the captain to declare an emergency and turn back, police said.
After the plane landed, the FBI detained one of the passengers, who was not identified, and authorities launched an investigation, said airport police Officer Rob Pedregon.
“No arrest has been made at this time, and the investigation is continuing,” said Laura Eimiller, a spokeswoman with the FBI’s Los Angeles field office. “The allegations involve the assault of a fellow passenger, but no charges have been filed.”
A woman aboard the flight took a photo from inside the plane of several police cars on the runway and described the altercation in an Instagram post written in German.
The woman, who goes by @mel.anita, said nine police cars surrounded the plane after a man grabbed the passenger by the throat when she tilted her seat back.
The 136 passengers on the flight were put on board another plane and arrived in San Francisco at 1:43 a.m. Monday — five hours behind schedule, officials said.
“Our crew members are trained to ensure the safe operation of every flight we operate,” said Dan Landson, a spokesman for Southwest. “Initial information is that the flight attendants swiftly coordinated with pilots on the flight deck to get the aircraft on the ground safely and quickly.”