An Air Canada flight was diverted to Orlando International Airport on Monday after officials said a passenger became aggressive, attacked the crew with pots of coffee and tried to open the cabin door while the plane was still in the air.
The man, later identified as Brandon Michael Courneyea, had to be secured in his seat by crew members and other passengers using zip ties, a federal criminal complaint said.
According to CTV News, one of those passengers who restrained the man was a Toronto councilman.
Courneyea was flying from Jamaica to Toronto on Monday night when the incident happened, a federal criminal complaint said.
Crew members contacted the FBI at about 7:30 p.m. after a flight attendant reported that Courneyea started to yell at fellow passengers “for looking at him,” the complaint said.
He then went to the back of the plane, where he grabbed a pot of coffee from the galley and started to swing it aggressively at crew members, investigators said.
“Courneyea then stated that it would only take one guy to take the plane down and that he wanted to take everyone with him,” the criminal complaint said.
He then grabbed a second pot of coffee, prompting a flight attendant to confront him out of concern for other passengers, agents said.
“When confronted (by the flight attendant), Courneyea lunged for the rear cabin exit door and began to pull the door lever up to open the door,” the complaint said. “(He) then was restrained by crew members and fellow passengers on the aircraft.”
Crew members and other passengers used zip ties to secure Courneyea’s arms and legs to his seat, investigators said.
Michael Thompson, a Toronto city councilman who was on the flight, said a it took a group of passengers to wrestle Courneyea to the floor and restrain him.
"I did the feet and some other folks did the arm," he said of using zip ties to restrain Courneyea. "We didn't attempt to injure him or anything like that. We just wanted to get control of the situation."
The incident went on for about 45 minutes before Courneyea was restrained and the plane landed in Orlando, witnesses said.
He was arrested by federal agents and charged with assault or intimidation of flight crew member or flight attendant and interfering with the performance of duties.
When contacted by WFTV, Courneyea's wife in Canada did not know her husband was in jail.
She said Courneyea had gone to Jamaica on Friday for a vacation and, after reading the criminal complaint, said the allegations against her husband were completely out of character.
"That is not my husband at all," she said. "There's a lot more to what brought that on, because my husband is the most loving man you'll ever meet."
Air Canada released a statement Wednesday: "Air Canada Rouge flight 1805, en route from Montego Bay to Toronto Monday night, diverted to Orlando due to an unruly passenger. Our crew are trained to respond to such situations and followed standard procedures to ensure the continued safe operation of the flight. Our captain diverted the flight to Orlando, where it landed safely. As this is now a police matter, we have no further details to provide. It should be noted that although the passenger threatened to open an exit door, this is impossible to do during flight."
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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com