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2 Women Accused Of Using Racial Slurs Arrested After Argument Diverts Flight Out Of DFW

PHOENIX (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Two women were arrested after authorities said one of them spit on a passenger who asked them to stop using racial slurs in their conversation, leading to an argument that caused the flight out of Dallas-Fort Worth to be diverted.

American Airlines said the flight was on its way to Los Angeles when it was diverted to Sky Harbor International Airport on Thursday at around 5:15 p.m. because of an on-flight altercation.

When the flight landed, officers with the Phoenix Police Department arrested Kelly Pichardo, 30, and Leeza Rodriguez, 29, both from the Bronx, New York, saying they verbally and physically assaulted other passengers and crew members.

Phoenix Police Sgt. Mercedes Fortune said the women were using racial slurs when a male passenger asked them to stop using the language. Pichardo allegedly spit at the man, who then began recording them. Fortune said Rodriguez then hit the man's hand to stop him from recording.

Rodriguez faces charges of assault and disorderly conduct and Pichardo faces a charge of disorderly conduct.

American Airlines released a statement on the incident:

While en route from Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) to Los Angeles (LAX), American Airlines flight 776 diverted to Phoenix (PHX) as a result of an in-flight customer altercation. Upon arrival, the flight was met by local law enforcement who removed and arrested two individuals for verbally and physically assaulting other customers and flight crew members. Their behavior was disturbing and unacceptable, and they have been placed on the internal refuse list pending further investigation. We continue to investigate this incident and are working directly with impacted customers to ensure their well-being. We thank our crewmembers for their professionalism in managing a difficult situation.

The flight continued to Los Angeles and arrived without further incident.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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