HONOLULU – A passenger who became agitated on a flight to Honolulu and allegedly charged toward the cockpit faces federal charges of interfering with a flight crew.
Passengers and crew members overcame Santiago Lol Tizol during the flight from Los Angeles late Friday and restrained him with plastic handcuffs.
The 37-year-old citizen of Mexico was scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Honolulu on Monday. Interfering with a flight crew is a felony, and he could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
"The FBI takes these matters very seriously, especially in light of what happened on Sept. 11," said FBI spokesman Brandon Simpson. "Whenever there is an incident on an airplane, there is the potential to jeopardize so many people."
Scott Ishikawa, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, said passengers described Tizol "acting erratically" midway through the flight.
"At one point, the man was threatening to harm another passenger's infant in the business-class section of [the] plane," Ishikawa said. "It got to a boiling point, where some of the passengers felt they had to restrain him."
Ishikawa said authorities questioned passengers about the incident after the plane arrived in Hawaii. The Northwest Airlines flight had 177 passengers aboard.
Pat Crowley-Friendly, who was headed to Hawaii for vacation, said Tizol rushed into first class.
"This guy just bolted. He screamed as he flew by here. He was heading for the cockpit," Crowley-Friendly said. "This fabulous stewardess just grabbed him by the collar and he screamed again."
Her husband, Andy Friendly, and three other passengers tackled him, she said.
"You don't know what's in his mind — whether he was trying to break down the door of the cockpit, whether he had a weapon on him, whether he might have had some kind of explosive," Friendly said. "All those things go through your mind."