DENVER – A 29-year-old man was arrested Tuesday for allegedly binding the hands of a teenager sitting next to him on a Southwest Airlines flight and trying to tape her older sister's hands as well.
The U.S. attorney's office said Ezra Wallace has been charged with two counts of assault aboard an aircraft for the incident on a San Diego-to-Denver flight on Aug. 1.
According to an arrest affidavit, Wallace and the two teenage sisters were seated in the same row on the flight. Officials said Wallace did not know the girls.
Before the plane took off, he allegedly tried to take a photograph of the older sister, who was seated in the aisle seat, but she covered her face. During the flight, the younger sister, who is 16, said Wallace took out some pre-torn strips of white athletic tape from his backpack and used a figure eight pattern to tie her hands together with the tape.
The older sister managed to free her sister, tearing off the tape with her teeth. Afterward, Wallace allegedly tried to tape the older sister's hands to those of her younger sibling, according to the document. A flight attendant who saw what was happening then moved the two girls to a different row with their brother.
Wallace was allowed to stay on the Denver-bound flight, and the FBI interviewed the 16-year-old a week later.
According to the affidavit, Wallace said he was "drunk and blurry" during the flight because he drank about a half-pint of vodka beforehand.
The federal public defender's office, which is expected to represent Wallace, said it could not comment because lawyers hadn't received information about the case yet.
U.S. Attorney spokesman Jeff Dorschner said Wallace's arrest was delayed because of "investigative work" but wouldn't elaborate.
Wallace remains in custody in Colorado.