PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A Southwest Airlines flight made an emergency landing in Oregon because of an unruly passenger who demanded multiple glasses of wine, displayed gang signs he said were for Jesus and frightened the flight crew, according to federal court documents.
Sheron Lamar Rogers, 27, was arrested Tuesday at the Portland International Airport on an accusation of interfering with a flight crew. He was jailed until Thursday afternoon, when a judge agreed to his pre-trial release. His court-appointed attorney, Lisa Hay, declined to comment.
The trouble started even before the Sacramento-bound flight left Seattle, according to the arrest warrant.
FBI agent Jake Green said in an affidavit that Rogers wanted to sit in a first-class section that didn't exist and then had to be told three times to stow his luggage.
Once seated, Rogers pressed the call button above a seat and a flight attendant asked if he had an emergency, according to authorities. Rogers used expletives and demanded a drink. He was told it would be served later but continued to use foul language and demand drinks, the court document states.
After the plane took off, Rogers repeatedly hit the call button and said it was an emergency: He wanted three glasses of wine.
When the attendant said he could only have one glass at a time, Rogers asked for her first and last name. After she only gave her first name, Rogers again swore at her, before adding, "Jesus loves you," the documents state.
He then demanded to speak with the pilot. When told that was impossible, he repeatedly pressed the call button.
Rogers began shouting at the passengers watching the commotion and flashed gang signs, the documents say.
The three flight attendants feared the situation would turn violent, and one prepared a pot of boiling water to use against Rogers if he were to approach the flight deck.
The pilot decided to turn around and land when the plane was 65 miles southeast of Portland.
Rogers told authorities he was polite on the plane, but others weren't, according to court documents. Any gang signs he displayed "were for Jesus," he said.
He told investigators he smoked "purple hash" — a strain of marijuana — before the flight but didn't feel high, according to documents.
Rogers is scheduled to be arraigned March 20.
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