The American Airlines passenger caught on video punching a flight attendant went berserk 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, California, was charged with interference with flight crew members and attendants for his meltdown on the plane to Los Angeles on Wednesday, officials said.
“Le exited his seat while flight attendants were conducting food and beverage service. Le grabbed one 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 allegedly grabbed both of the flight attendant’s shoulders from behind.
“After the flight attendant stepped back and put up a defensive posture, Le walked to the front of the airplane,” the feds said.
“Le then allegedly loitered near the first-class cabin and then sat in an unoccupied aisle near the wall dividing the first-class cabin and the main cabin of the aircraft.”
“A different flight attendant approached Le and requested that Le return to his assigned seat. Le did not comply and allegedly stood up and assumed a fighting stance towards the flight attendant by making closed fists with both of his hands,” it continued.
When the crew member went to report the disturbance to the captain, Le allegedly punched him in the head.
He was moved to a different row while his hands and legs were tied.
“Le continuously unbuckled his seatbelt, causing flight attendants to restrain him to the seat with seatbelt extenders,” the statement said.
A 30-second recording made 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 runs up to the employee from behind and strikes him in the back of the head with a closed fist.
A witness told ABC 7 Chicago the suspect also made a chilling remark before the assault – whispering that “there are 10 killers on the plane.”
American Airlines said that the passenger “will never be allowed to travel with us in the future, and we will work closely with law enforcement in their investigation.
“We thank our crew for their quick action and professionalism to ensure the safety of their fellow team members and customers on board. Our thoughts are with our injured flight attendant, and we are ensuring that they and their fellow crew members have the support they need at this time,” the airline added.
Le — who faces a maximum of 20 years in federal lockup on the charges if convicted — is expected to make his first court appearance Thursday afternoon in Los Angeles.