PORTLAND -- The Alaska Airlines passenger accused of trying to open an emergency exit during a flight from Anchorage, Alaska, to Portland, Ore. is expected to make his first court appearance Tuesday before a federal magistrate.
Alexander Michael Herrera was arrested and booked into a Portland jail Monday on a charge of interfering with a flight crew.
Passengers on a flight from Anchorage to Portland had to restrain Herrera with shoestrings and seat-belt extensions after he attempted to open an emergency exit, witnesses said.
Flight 132 was about to land Monday morning when Herrera set off an alarm by pulling the door handle, said FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele.
"Passengers and crew members interviewed by Port of Portland Police Officers said the man made unusual statements prior to the incident, and then attempted to open the door," Steele said.
"The lights were out and I awoke to a loud hissing and then lots of screaming," passenger Ryan Oelrich told KREM-TV. "I thought maybe the plane was going down."
"The woman next to the passenger said 'Somebody please help,'" witness Henry Pignataro added. "I put him in a choke hold and brought him down to the ground."
Pignataro said he and another man held down Herrera and asked the flight attendants if they had any restraints. He said they brought three sets of shoelaces, which Pignataro and the other man used to bind Herrera's legs.
The flight attendants then brought extra seat belt extensions and the witnesses used those to further restrain Herrera, Pignataro said.
Pignataro said Herrera was then put into a seat "where he was surrounded by big guys" and sat calmly until the plane landed safely.
Port of Portland security guards escorted him off the plane and he was arrested.
Herrera was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center, and will likely appear before a federal magistrate in Portland Tuesday, Steele said.
The plane landed only nine minutes behind schedule.
Herrera's father told KGW his son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder several years ago and was taking medication for it. He said Herrera recently got a new job in Alaska and hadn't said anything about coming to Portland.
Photo below courtesy of Ryan Oelrich.