A disruptive passenger on an Atlanta-bound Delta flight forced the plane to return to Las Vegas on Sunday morning.
The man has been identified as a 60-year old Atlanta-area man named Richard Joel Garber, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
Ray Wronker, a passenger on the flight, spoke with a local Atlanta TV station upon returning home, saying: "Apparently the person sitting in the window seat in the exit row had undone the flap that gets you access to the handle of the [emergency] exit row door. [Passengers] had jumped up trying to get the flight attendants' attention. When they did that he reached for the emergency door handle."
Passengers then wrestled the suspect to the floor and the pilot returned the plane to Las Vegas. Police detained the suspect and the flight took off a second time for Atlanta without further incident.
Katie Hindman, who was returning from vacation, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that she was seated several rows behind Garber. “It seemed that he retreated, and the passengers backed off,” Hindman told the paper. “But he made a second run for it, and a big group of guys tackled him.”
“I thought Delta handled the situation really well,” Hindman told the paper. “They struck a good balance of being professional and at the same time letting passengers know what was going on.”
Garber was held at Henderson Detention Center in Henderson, Nevada and appeared Monday afternoon before a US Magistrate. Garber was released under the condition that he not fly until his case is resolved. He was charged with crimes aboard an aircraft and interfering with flight crew, both of which are federal offenses.