A Philadelphia deejay was able to pass a background check to take a semiprivate JetSmarter flight from Las Vegas to New York even though he had been posting disturbing threats on Twitter.
DJ Maurice Paola, 23, forced an emergency landing of the 12-passenger jet in North Platte, Neb., Sept. 3 after he argued with the flight attendant and threatened to decapitate passengers.
The Lincoln Journal Star reported the jet had just taken off when Paola “started throwing items at passengers, walking back and forth, pounding on windows, banging his head on walls and insisting that the plane land immediately.”
The pilot — after failing to calm Paola down — retreated to the cockpit, while the flight attendant used an oxygen tank to defend herself and a family with children ages 4 and 6 cowered in the back of the plane.
Paola faces up to 20 years if convicted of interfering with the flight crew.
“JetSmarter provides security far in excess of what commercial airlines provide,” company spokesman Ronn Torossian told me. “This was an unfortunate isolated incident.”
But if anyone had looked at Paola’s recent tweets, they would have found this one from late on Sept. 2: “The next person that steps near my crib will have their heads taken off their shoulders.”
A day earlier he wrote: “Call the cops I dare ya they’ll get taken out.” On Aug. 31, he tweeted: “From a jail cell to the private jet lmao they can’t stop me.”
“We are cooperating with authorities,” Torossian said. “We have, and will continue to have, stringent security policies.”