The American Airlines passenger caught on video hitting a flight attendant went mad when told to wait for coffee — and also claimed there were “10 killers on the plane,” according to officials and a witness.
Alexander Tung Cuu Le, 33, of Westminster, Calif., was charged with interfering with crew members and escorts before his collapse on the plane to Los Angeles on Wednesday, officials said.
“Le left his seat while flight attendants served food and drinks. Le grabbed a flight attendant’s left shoulder from behind and asked for coffee,” the US Attorney’s Office for the Central District in California said in a statement.
Moments later, Le reportedly grabbed both the flight attendant’s shoulders from behind.
“After the flight attendant stepped back and took a defensive stance, Le walked to the front of the plane,” the FBI said.
“Le then reportedly hung out near the first class cabin and then in an unoccupied aisle by the wall separating the first class cabin and the main cabin of the plane.”
“Another flight attendant approached Le and requested Le to return to his assigned seat. Le disobeying and reportedly got up and took a fighting stance towards the flight attendant by making closed fists with both hands,” it continued.Read:DoD Announces Immediate and Long-Term Actions to Help Strengthen the Economic Security and Stability of Service Members and Their Families
When the crew member went to report the nuisance to the captain, Le allegedly hit him in the head.
He was moved to another row while his hands and legs were tied.
“Le constantly unfastened his seat belt, causing flight attendants to hold him to the seat with seat belt extenders,” the statement said.
A 30-second recording taken by fellow passenger Barrie Livingstone shows a male flight attendant standing in the middle of the aisle and asking a passenger, “Are you threatening me?”
The crew member then turns his back on the unruly passenger, who rushes at the employee from behind and punches him on the back of the head with a closed fist.
A witness told ABC 7 Chicago that the suspect also made a chilling remark before the attack — whispering that “there are 10 killers on the plane.”
American Airlines said the passenger “will never be allowed to travel with us in the future, and we will be working closely with law enforcement officers in their investigations.Read:Personal and national factors collide in tight Georgia Senate race — CBS News Battleground Tracker poll
“We thank our crew for their prompt action and professionalism to ensure the safety of their teammates and customers on board. Our thoughts are with our injured flight attendant and we will ensure that she and their fellow crew members receive the support they need at this time,” the airline added.
Le — who could face a maximum of 20 years in federal incarceration on the charges if convicted — is expected to appear in court for the first time Thursday afternoon in Los Angeles.