A U.S. Army soldier who had served in Iraq was tackled and restrained by alarmed passengers after running down the aisle and ramming the cockpit door on a flight from New York City to Tampa, an official said.
The soldier did not have any weapons and there was no evidence that he meant harm to passengers or crew on the flight Thursday night, Tampa International Airport spokeswoman Brenda Geoghagan said.
"He rammed the cockpit door a couple of times — full speed," Geoghagan said.
The soldier, who was traveling from New York with his brother to visit their mother on a Delta flight, was restrained on the floor until the flight landed in Tampa.
He was taken into custody under a Florida law that allows a person to be held without charges if they are deemed to be a threat to themselves or others, Geoghagan said. The soldier's brother told officials that he "has some mental problems related to his Army service," Geoghagan said.
The Associated Press was withholding the name of the soldier because no charges have been filed.
Army spokesman Sheldon Smith said the man was attached to Fort Riley, Kansas, but his status was unclear. An incident report said the man was scheduled to get out of the service July 12 and was on terminal leave.
Reached by phone Friday, the soldier's mother said he returned from Iraq earlier this year and is suffering from mental problems. He is "delirious" and "depressed" and imagines that people are following him, said the woman, who declined to give her name.
The soldier's brother told officers that he wanted medical attention before they left New York, but their mother wanted him to come to Tampa first, the report said.
As the plane was making its approach to Tampa just after 11 p.m. Thursday, the soldier — who was dressed in civilian clothes and wearing a New York Yankees baseball cap — refused to sit down when asked by a flight attendant, the report said.
Before his brother could get him to sit down, he sprinted toward the front of the plane. Passenger Jason Moore, 27, told the St. Petersburg Times that the man ran "like he was running in a track meet" down the aisle.
The investigation has been turned over to the FBI.