A Republic Airways flight made an emergency landing at New York’s LaGuardia Airport Saturday afternoon after a “security incident” involving a passenger’s behavior near the end of the flight.
A Port Authority spokesman told The New York Times that the unidentified man’s “suspicious and erratic behavior” had caused other passengers to alert the pilot. No further details were immediately provided.
The passenger was taken into custody, said a statement from Republic. He was seen restrained by law enforcement facedown with his arms stretched out in front of him on a taxiway after the plane landed.
All 82 passengers and crew members were safely evacuated. No injuries were reported.
American Flight 4817 took off from Indianapolis earlier in the afternoon and was scheduled to land at LaGuardia.
One of the passengers, Fawad Khulia, told the Times that chaos erupted on the flight as it landed and someone behind him yelled to people to get off immediately.
Khulia said he heard people saying a man had a “suspicious device.”
“People were panicking and getting shoved to the ground,” he told the Times. “The slide opened, and I jumped out. People were sliding and rolling down to the floor. It was crazy.”
He saw the man tackled by emergency responders. He said a woman with the man was “telling him not to do it.”
A statement from Republic said that the flight “declared an emergency and landed at New York’s LaGuardia Airport without incident in response to passenger behavior near the end of the flight.” As the landed jet exited the active runway, it stopped on a taxiway and passengers and crew were removed in a “precautionary emergency evacuation,” the statement added.
“Our crew responded to the situation in accordance with our procedures and with professionalism and a concern for safety of all aboard. Law enforcement and first responders met the aircraft and the passenger involved in the incident has been taken into custody.”
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said on Twitter Saturday night that a passenger was taken into custody and “there is no reason to believe there is any danger to New Yorkers.”
LaGuardia tweeted that the airport was operating normally.
Incidents of unruly passengers have skyrocketing, particularly in confrontations over airlines’ safety requirements to protect passengers from the spread of COVID-19.