Man accused of attacking flight attendant at Sky Harbor in possible hate crime

A man attacked a flight attendant at Phoenix Sky Harbor overnight and it's being investigated as a hate crime, according to police.
Published: Mar. 25, 2022 at 7:55 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — A man was booked in jail after police said he attacked a flight attendant who was leaving Phoenix Sky Harbor early Friday morning. Police are investigating it as a hate crime.

Investigators said 32-year-old Brandon Smith went after the woman around 2:15 a.m. when she was on a Sky Train platform at 44th Street and Van Buren Street. She was coming back from a flight, headed to her car.

“I was shocked but not really shocked because I’ve seen what’s around in the area. And there hasn’t been security or whatnot up here,” a flight attendant told Arizona’s Family. She’s referred to transient people who frequent the area. She asked that we not give her name or what airline she works for. She could be fired for talking with us.

“I’m always making sure if I am alone here at night, if I get off a trip we’re pretty good that we have coworkers, pilots or whatnot that we’re making sure we’re going in pairs,” she said.

Arizona’s Family spoke with several flight attendants who said the 44th Street Sky Train stop is especially worrisome. It’s a long walk to their cars. “I do see a lot of homeless out here near 44th Street and that has concerned me because you never know what attitude they’re going to have,” Kim Brown, an airport employee, said.

Police wouldn’t say what specifically Smith said to the victim or how the attack occurred. In response to our emails, Sky Harbor said, “we are very concerned about the assault of this employee and we commend her for her bravery and composure, which assisted police in quickly arresting the suspect.”

Phoenix Police provide security for the airport. Arizona’s Family asked police and the airport if they’re stepping up patrols following the attack. They wrote, “Sky Harbor has a Phoenix Police Airport Bureau on-site, with Phoenix Police officers working at the airport 24/7.”

Our crew spotted two officers on patrol during their time at the Sky Train stop. Smith is expected to go before a judge late Friday night. Phoenix police said their investigation continues and that more charges are likely.