Ariz. man restrained with shoelaces during flight to Portland

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by KGW.com

azfamily.com

Posted on May 27, 2013 at 9:32 AM

Updated Tuesday, May 28 at 10:25 PM

PORTLAND -- Passengers on a flight from Anchorage to Portland had to restrain a man with shoestrings and seat belt extensions after he attempted to open an emergency exit, witnesses said.

Flight 132 was about to land Monday morning when the man set off an alarm by pulling the door handle, said FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele.

"Passengers and crew members interviewed by Port of Portland Police officers said the man made unusual statements prior to the incident, and then attempted to open the door," Steele said.

"The lights were out and I awoke to a loud hissing and then lots of screaming," passenger Ryan Oelrich told KREM-TV. "I thought maybe the plane was going down."

"The woman next to the passenger said, 'Somebody please help,'" witness Henry Pignataro added. "I put him in a choke hold and brought him down to the ground."

Pignataro said he and another man held down the passenger, later identified as 23-year-old Alexander Michael Herrera, and asked the flight attendants if they had any restraints. He said they brought three sets of shoelaces, which Pignataro and the other man used to bind Herrera's legs.

The flight attendants then brought extra seat belt extensions and the witnesses used those to further restrain Herrera, Pignataro said.

Pignataro said Herrera was then put into a seat "where he was surrounded by big guys" and sat calmly until the plane landed safely.

Port of Portland security guards escorted him off the plane and he was arrested on a charge of interference with a flight crew.

Herrera was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center and will likely appear before a federal magistrate in Portland Tuesday, Steele said.

Steele said Herrera is from Arizona. She does not know his home city. 

The plane landed only nine minutes behind schedule.

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