A man has been charged after he allegedly tried to break into an airplane cockpit last week before opening an emergency exit and jumping from the moving plane at Los Angeles International Airport, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Monday.
Luis Antonio Victoria Dominguez, 33, of La Paz, Mexico, has been charged with interference with flight crew members and attendants, CBS Los Angeles reports. The charge carries a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.
According to a criminal complaint, Victoria Dominguez was a passenger on United Airlines flight 5365 — operated by SkyWest Airlines — scheduled to fly from LAX to Salt Lake City.
Soon after the plane started taxiing to the runway, Victoria Dominguez allegedly “sprinted” to the front of the aircraft past a seated flight attendant and “began banging on the cockpit door and manipulating the locked doorknob,” according to an FBI affidavit filed with the complaint.
Victoria Dominguez, who broke his leg during the incident, underwent surgery and is expected to appear in federal court this week.
It was not immediately clear if he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
Victoria Dominguez arrived in Los Angeles on Tuesday from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, the complaint says. His plan was to get to Salt Lake City, but he did not have a connecting flight. He spent the night at a hotel in downtown Los Angeles after drinking several beers and buying “a lot” of crystal meth for $20, he told the FBI.
The next day, he continued to smoke the crystal meth and decided to fly to Utah instead of taking a bus, the complaint says. He smoked more of the drug before heading to the airport Thursday but ultimately missed his flight and wandered the streets through the night.
On Friday, he missed a second flight but was rescheduled to board United Airlines Flight 5365, operated by SkyWest Airlines, to Salt Lake City. Victoria Dominguez took his seat and began to doze as he “was coming down from all the drugs he had used the last couple of days,” the complaint says.
The passenger sitting next to Victoria Dominguez told authorities that he kept looking around and fidgeting. He asked her where she was going, and she said it was not his business. She said he then whispered to her that he needed to get off the plane and was going to jump out. “I’m serious,” he said.
Victoria Dominguez, however, told the FBI that he had he heard other passengers laugh and say they were going to a different destination, the complaint says. He panicked. He “sprinted” toward a flight attendant at the front of the plane around 7 p.m. and said he wasn’t feeling well and needed to get off the flight.
The flight attendant said the plane was about to take off and they began to struggle, the complaint says. He pounded on the locked cockpit door and tried to open it as the flight attendant prayed the pilots – who were confused by the banging – would not open the door, according to the document.
Victoria Dominguez wrenched open the emergency exit door and the emergency slide deployed, according to the complaint, as the flight attendant called the pilots to stop the plane.
He told the FBI that his panic attack potentially “gave him the strength to open the door.” The aircraft, which had not been moving before, began to roll as Victoria Dominguez struggled with a passenger who was trying to restrain him.
Victoria Dominguez got away and jumped from the aircraft, missing the emergency slide and landing on the tarmac, breaking his right leg. He was trying to crawl away from the plane when he was apprehended.
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