(NEWARK, N.J.) — Passengers aboard United flight 116 bound for the U.S. from Hong Kong were finally able to leave a Newark Liberty International Airport terminal late Monday afternoon after a flier was taken into custody and hospitalized after allegedly demanding that the plane be diverted to Canada.
An official with the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force said the man — identified as Daniel Morgan Perry and reportedly in his 30s and American — had been transported to Newark’s University Hospital for observation.
During the flight, which landed around 1:40 p.m., the man was restrained by passengers. The official said there were no air marshals on the flight.
“It’s apparently an unstable person who is controlled by his medication and maybe he didn’t take it,” the official said.
Jacques Roizen, who was one of the passengers who restrained Perry, said nearly 10 hours into the 16-hour flight, a man six rows in front of him started screaming out of nowhere. Roizen said that he had not seen the man drinking.
“[He was] screaming stuff about national security advisers, the CIA, saying names of people [he claimed were] working for the CIA,” Roizen told ABC News. “[He was saying] that we couldn’t land the plane, we had to divert the plane. He couldn’t land in the U.S.”
Roizen said Perry was afraid of being poisoned by one of the passengers.
“He saw everybody as a threat,” Roizen said. “He thought everyone was working for the FBI, the CIA….He was drawing a parallel between [National Security Agency leaker] Edward Snowden and himself….He was convinced he was going to die before this flight landed.”
Within minutes, about five passengers had restrained the man with plastic handcuffs from the flight crew.
Florida resident Paula Shea said the staff handled the situation “perfectly” and that she had not gotten scared.
“They did everything that you should do,” she said. “It was a person that was trying to…divert to Canada.”
Roizen said he and another passenger sat by Perry for the remaining six hours trying to calm him by talking about their families, Father’s Day and their children.
He said the man started to cry after a passenger told him that his actions had scared the children aboard.
“He seemed to react to that,” Roizen said. “At one point, he started crying because he said, ‘I don’t want to hurt the children.’ He asked both of us to put him under arrest, asked us to read him his rights.”
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