ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The passenger accused of interfering with an airline flight crew and attendants will remain in custody pending a preliminary and detention hearing scheduled for Friday, June 10. The District of New Mexico U.S. Attorney’s Office reports that 43-year-old Asiel Christian Norton of Venice, California made his initial appearance in federal court on Tuesday.
According to a criminal complaint, during the Delta Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Nashville on June 4, Norton allegedly rushed to the front of the plane and started pounding on the door to the flight deck. When a flight attendant tried to intervene, Norton is accused of pushing the attendant.
The complaint states that other passengers then helped the assistant in subduing Norton. The incident resulted in the flight being redirected to Albuquerque where Norton was arrested.
In a press release, the U.S. Attorney’s Office states that it is a violation of federal law on an aircraft in the jurisdiction of the United States to interfere with a flight attendant performing their duties or to lessen their ability to perform those duties by assault or intimidation.
“The FBI has no tolerance for individuals who interfere with flight operations and endanger the safety of passengers and airline personnel,” said Raul Bujanda, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Albuquerque Field Office in the press release. “I am pleased many people aboard the flight felt the same way, judging by the courageous attendants and passengers who sprang into action to restrain this person. As more Americans return to the skies, the FBI reminds travelers that this misbehavior on board aircraft will not be tolerated and, if warranted, will be thoroughly investigated and referred for prosecution.”
If convicted, Norton is facing up to 20 years in prison. The FBI investigated the case with help from the Albuquerque Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul Mysliwiec and Stephen White are prosecuting the case.