Man wrestles Korean Air passenger who tried to storm cockpit: 'It was just bedlam'

Gene Parente called it his 'worst post-9/11 fear'

Talk about a scare in the air.

A California man is being praised as a hero after subduing a passenger who tried to storm the cockpit of a transatlantic flight from Seoul to Seattle, threatening that he had a bomb and wanted the plane to be diverted to Canada.

Gene Parente was traveling home to San Diego on a Korean Air flight on Thursday, and awoke from a nap in his business-class seat to a loud disturbance in the cabin, about 45 minutes before landing.

The commotion was being caused by passenger Gyeong Jei Lee, who was wearing a plastic bag on his head and pounding on the door of the cockpit, The Seattle Times reports, citing court documents. Screaming in both English and Korean, Lee demanded to speak to the captain, alleging that he had a bomb and wanted the plane to land in Vancouver, B.C., because he had never been there before, per the New York Post.

A California man is being praised as a hero after subduing a passenger who tried to storm the cockpit of a transatlantic flight from Seoul to Seattle.

A California man is being praised as a hero after subduing a passenger who tried to storm the cockpit of a transatlantic flight from Seoul to Seattle. (iStock)

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Parente described the sight as his "worst post-9/11 fear" and sprang into "full-panic mode.”

The 54-year-old said he was approached by a flight attendant who asked for help in the "emergency" situation, as the crew members on board were physically smaller than the aggressor. At about 6 feet tall and 190 pounds, Parente was reportedly about the same size as Lee, and immediately intervened.

Lee pushed Parente and the two duked it out before the troublemaker "bolted" around the plane and knocked down a flight attendant. Lee was then tasered by another flight attendant, according to the Seattle Times. From there, Parente and two reserve pilots wrestled the man to the ground. Lee was subdued with giant zip ties until the plane landed.

“It was just bedlam,” Parente told the Post.

"The flight attendants and the two Korean air captains acted heroically as well," he added.

After touching down, Lee was taken into custody by the FBI at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The Seattle Times reports that the Colorado man has since been charged with interference with a flight crew and assault on an aircraft.

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Reflecting on the frightening flight, Parente claimed that other passengers did not stir from their seats during the commotion, adding that he was surprised to find himself as the "first line of defense."

“I’m not saying you need to have armed guards on planes, but at the same time this was a very dangerous situation that could have been worse,” he told the outlet.

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When reached for comment, a spokesperson for Korean Air stressed that flight crews were sufficiently trained in responding to such emergencies.

"All our crew members take a thorough safety and security training every year, including how to subdue unruly passengers with a taser, and we trust our crews are capable enough to conduct safety actions,” a representative told Fox News on Monday morning.

“However, unruly passengers are a broader issue that should also be dealt by an airport and law enforcement authorities,” the rep continued. “We will continue to discuss with relevant stakeholders to eliminate such cases."