Delta flight assault: plane makes emergency landing after passenger assaults flight attendant and air marshal

“The passenger assaulted a flight attendant,” Oklahoma City Police Captain Arthur Gregory told CNN. An air marshal aboard Flight 324 was also reportedly assaulted as he attempted to restrain the passenger, who was ultimately immobilized.

The Boeing 757-200 plane touched down at Will Rogers Global Airport around 7:40 p.m. local time, Gregory said. The man was removed from the flight and questioned by the FBI.

Oklahoma City Police said Friday the man was arrested and charged with public drunkenness and disorderly conduct.

Prison records show Ariel Pennington, 35, of Washington, DC, was held at 11:16 p.m. in Oklahoma City jail and released Friday morning at 4.54 a.m.

It is not known if Pennington has a lawyer at this time. He does not appear in any court file.

The Transportation Security Administration said the suspect was drinking.

Video taken by Axios reporter Sarah Mucha shows Pennington being whisked off the plane by two uniformed Oklahoma City police officers.

“I’m trying to figure out why I’m getting arrested,” one heard of Pennington. “What happened?”

About three hours after the flight began, a crew member made an announcement over the intercom system asking for “able-bodied men” to assist a flight attendant in the back of the plane, Mucha said.

Shortly after the announcement, one of the pilots informed the passengers that they would be diverting to Oklahoma City, the reporter said.

On the ground, Mucha began filming as authorities disembarked Pennington from the plane.

“They had to do health checks on the flight attendant so he could fly,” she said. “Once he was cleared, he continued to fly to (Los Angeles).”

The TSA said the incident did not go beyond mask rules. Last week, the mask’s federal mandate on all forms of public transportation, including commercial flights, was extended until March 18.

The Federal Aviation Administration says alcohol – especially passengers illegally drinking it brought on board – is a major factor in violent disruption to passengers on commercial flights.

Last month, the FAA said it had “received nearly 300 reports of passenger disruption due to alcohol and intoxication” this year.

The FAA announced fines for eight passengers totaling $ 161,823 for alleged unruly alcohol-related behavior in late November.

The Justice Department has said it is prioritizing the prosecution of federal crimes against commercial aircraft.

“The Department of Justice is committed to using its resources to do its part to prevent violence, intimidation, threats of violence and other criminal behavior that endangers the safety of passengers, flight crews and aircraft. commercial aircraft flight attendants, ”Attorney General Merrick Garland said. in a press release on November 24.

A TSA spokesperson told CNN that the air marshal ultimately did not need medical attention. There was no word on the nature of the injuries sustained by the flight attendant.

Delta Air Lines praised the “swift action and professionalism of the crew” and the Federal Air Stewards on the flight. “We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience caused.”

The flight left Oklahoma City after an approximately one hour delay. A video from CNN affiliate KCAL / KCBS showed the plane landing at Los Angeles International Airport at 10:18 p.m. local time.

CNN’s Marnie Hunter and Paul P. Murphy contributed to this report.