Massachusetts Man Indicted for Attempted Hijacking and Assault on United Airlines Flight

BOSTON, Mass. – A federal grand jury in Boston has indicted a man from Leominster, Massachusetts, for allegedly trying to open an emergency exit door mid-flight and attempting to stab a flight attendant. The incident occurred on United Airlines during a flight from Los Angeles to Boston.

Francisco Severo Torres, 33, faces charges of interference and also attempted interference with flight crew members and attendants using a dangerous weapon. The indictment follows his arrest at Boston Logan International Airport on March 6, 2023.

Court documents reveal that approximately 45 minutes before the flight’s landing, the crew received an alarm indicating that a starboard side door, located between the first class and coach sections, had been disarmed. A flight attendant discovered that the door’s locking handle had been partially moved towards the unlocked position, and the emergency slide arming lever had been switched to the “disarmed” position.

Another flight attendant had reported seeing Torres close to the door and suspected him of tampering with it. When confronted, Torres allegedly inquired if there were cameras that could prove his actions. The flight attendant then alerted the captain, expressing concerns that Torres posed a threat to the aircraft and recommending an immediate landing.

Passenger-recorded video footage allegedly shows Torres threatening to “kill every man on this plane” and declaring his intention to take over the aircraft. He is then seen making a stabbing motion with a broken spoon, striking a flight attendant’s neck area three times. Passengers intervened, tackling Torres and restraining him with the help of the flight crew. He was taken into custody upon the flight’s arrival in Boston.

Passengers later reported that Torres had asked about the location of the door handle on the safety card during the pre-flight safety briefing. He was also seen pacing in the galley before the alleged attack on the flight attendant.

The charges carry a potential sentence of life imprisonment, up to five years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000.