Live

Watch CBSN Live

On-board disturbance forces flight back to Washington

WASHINGTON -- A United Airlines spokesman says a flight headed from Washington, D.C., to Denver had to return to Dulles International Airport after a passenger failed to comply with crew instructions.

Spokesman Luke Punzenberger said in an emailed statement that Flight 1074 returned after takeoff Monday evening. He says local law enforcement met the aircraft at the gate and detained the passenger. His statement did not provide further details about what happened on board the Boeing 737.

The plane returned 20 minutes into the flight.

The pilot, in a calm voice, said he was "declaring an emergency due to a passenger disturbance. He's restrained. We need to return to the airport," according to the LiveATC.net recording.

The pilot later explained that "we had a passenger becoming violent" and that he "ran toward the cockpit."

Airport spokeswoman Kimberly Gibbs said the passenger was taken to a local hospital for evaluation.

Gibbs said early Tuesday that the flight was preparing to take off again for Denver International Airport.

The flight tracking website FlightAware.com says the plane took off for Denver again shortly after midnight local time.

The carrier says 33 passengers and six crew members were on board the Boeing 737 at the time.

"I'm so sorry. God," the passenger says on a video purportedly shot by someone on board.

"Don't move, David. You're OK. We're gonna get you off this plane, buddy," one of the people holding him down said.

Passengers tackled the man, pinning him to the floor of the aircraft just minutes after takeoff.

A law enforcement source tells CBS News correspondent Jeff Pegues investigators believe the man is mentally unstable and that he may have been on some type of medication or drugs at the time he tried to storm the cockpit. The source also says no Weapons were found.

The pilot adds, "We had a passenger becoming violent. No weapon involved. He's restrained by other passengers now though. We don't know his mental condition. But sound like he's restrained for now. Just need to get on the ground."

The pilot assures controllers the cockpit is locked.

Curtis Tellam of Superior, Colorado, said his wife, Donna, was on the flight and sent him a text describing the incident as "the scariest moment in my life" and saying "some crazy guy just tried to get into the cockpit."

Curtis Tellam said in a phone interview Tuesday that he called his wife after the plane landed and said he could hear other passengers telling the man to calm down.

He said his wife told him she noticed the man acting strangely before the flight, constantly moving his bag from one overhead bin to the next. Tellam's wife told him that shortly after takeoff, the man ran forward in the cabin, through the first-class cabin where she was sitting and almost to the cockpit before three other passengers stopped and restrained him.

She told her husband the man shouted that there were other jihadists on the plane and that he would give the people who were holding him a lot of money if they would let him go.

"She's tough. She flies a lot ... but she's really shaken up," Curtis Tellam said of his wife, who said the man was basically lying at her feet the entire time he was restrained.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.