Man Arrested for Locking Himself in American Airlines Cockpit
(BATON ROUGE, La.) - A man who Wednesday locked himself inside an American Eagle plane cockpit in Baton Rouge, La., surrendered to authorities and was in police custody, law enforcement sources told ABC News.
The man was identified as Andrew Alessi by the Baton Rouge police. He will likely be charged with interfering with a flight crew, according to a federal law enforcement source.
American Eagle Airlines is a regional partner of American Airlines.
Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport Chief of Airport Security Anthony Williams said that the aircraft was in the process of a turnaround, having just flown in from Dallas, when the man got on the plane.
"It had been cleared of passengers," Williams said at a news briefing. "No passengers were ever in danger and they were in the process of clearing the plane and doing their final security walk-through. And what apparently happened, the gentleman in question pushed past the gate agent who was at the gate and ran down the jet bridge."
Another American Airlines employee "challenged" Alessi at the entrance of the plane, but Alessi got past him and locked himself in the cockpit. Williams said the cockpit is "virtually impregnable" once it is locked from the inside.
The plane was immobilized and Alessi did not know how to fly a plane, according to a spokesman for the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport.
The plane was quickly disabled by disconnecting the external power so that there would have been no way to start the plane. The aircraft also remained attached to the push-back vehicle, the spokesman said.
Alessi was reportedly upset about a personal situation.
American Airlines personnel immediately notified airport police, and a SWAT team from the Baton Rouge Police Department negotiated with the man and got him out of the cockpit and off the plane. The negotiation lasted between two to three hours, according to Baton Rouge Airport spokesman Jim Caldwell.
The FBI and ATF were on-scene to assist.
Alessi was a ticketed passenger and had cleared security. He had no weapons.
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