5 March 2023: En Route to Boston

Video shot by a passenger mid-flight on a Boston-bound plane shows a threatening outburst and attack that resulted in the arrest of a man from Leominster, Massachusetts, on Sunday, March 5. The man, Francisco Torres, 33 years old, is accused of trying to open an emergency door and trying to stab a flight attendant in the neck onboard the United Airlines flight. The suspect has appeared in court. One passenger said in a news report that “he was visibly upset.” That passenger captured video of the agitated man shouting and using threatening language. “He was saying that he was Balthazar, that his father was Dracula, he was going to kill all the men on the plane. There was going to be a blood bath, he was asking where Homeland Security was.” Torres also allegedly attempted to stab a flight attendant in the neck. One of the charges he faces is interference and attempted interference with flight crew members and attendants as well as using a dangerous weapon. Approximately 45 minutes prior to landing, the flight crew received an alarm in the cockpit that a starboard side door between the first class and coach sections of the aircraft was disarmed. Upon inspection, a flight attendant found that the door’s locking handle had been moved out of the fully locked position and that the emergency slide arming lever had been moved to the “disarmed” position. The flight attendant reported this to the captain and flight crew after securing the door and emergency slide. Another flight attendant said he saw Torres near the door and believed Torres had tampered with it. A flight attendant then confronted Torres about tampering with the door, to which he allegedly responded by asking if there were cameras showing that he had done so. The flight attendant then notified the captain that they believed Torres posed a threat to the aircraft and that the captain needed to land the aircraft as soon as possible, the court documents say. Shortly thereafter, Torres got out of his seat and approached the starboard side door where two flight attendants were standing in the aisle. One of the flight attendants saw Torres mouthing something that he could not hear. Torres then allegedly thrust towards one of the flight attendants in a stabbing motion with a broken metal spoon, hitting the flight attendant on the neck area three times. Passengers began to assist and tackled Torres. He was restrained with the assistance of flight crew. The charge of interference and attempted interference with flight crew members and attendants using a dangerous weapon provides for a sentence of up to life in prison, up to five years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.