Mass. man allegedly tried to stab flight attendant, open emergency exit on Boston-bound plane

Fellow passengers tackled Francisco Severo Torres and helped the flight crew restrain him, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

A Massachusetts man was arrested Sunday after allegedly trying to open an emergency exit on a United Airlines flight to Boston and attempting to stab a flight attendant in the neck.  Ted Shaffrey / AP, File

A Leominster man was arrested Sunday after he allegedly tried to open an emergency exit on a United Airlines flight to Boston and attempted to stab a flight attendant in the neck. 

Francisco Severo Torres, 33, was arrested at Logan International Airport Sunday evening and charged with one count of interference and attempted interference with flight crew members and attendants using a dangerous weapon, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts said in a press release. 

About 45 minutes before landing, crew on the flight from Los Angeles to Boston were notified that a side door between the plane’s first class and coach sections was disarmed, with the locking handle moved about a quarter of the way toward the unlocked position, according to the release. 


A flight attendant secured the door and emergency slide and reported the incident to the captain and flight crew. A fellow flight attendant said he had seen Torres near the door and believed he tampered with it, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

When confronted, Torres allegedly asked if there were cameras showing that he had tampered with the door, according to the release. A flight attendant reportedly told the captain that they believed Torres posed a threat to the plane and that the captain needed to land as soon as possible. 

Torres then reportedly got out of his seat and approached the side door, where two flight attendants were standing. He allegedly thrust a broken metal spoon toward one of the flight attendants, hitting them on the neck three times, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Fellow passengers tackled Torres, and the flight crew helped restrain him, according to the release. 

“Thanks to the quick action of our crew and customers, one customer was restrained after becoming a security concern on United flight 2609 from Los Angeles to Boston,” United Airlines confirmed in a statement to 

The flight landed safely, and there were no serious injuries reported as a result of the incident, the airline said.


Torres was taken into custody when the flight arrived in Boston.

Passengers later reported that during the flight attendants’ safety briefing prior to takeoff, Torres had asked a fellow passenger where the door handle’s location was shown on the safety card, according to the release. 

Torres made an initial appearance in U.S. District Court Monday and was detained pending a hearing set for March 9. If convicted, he faces a sentence of up to life in prison, up to five years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000. 

“We have zero tolerance for any type of violence on our flights, and this customer will be banned from flying on United pending an investigation,” United said. “We are cooperating with law enforcement in their investigation.”


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