Airport authorities: Traveler beats homeless man with chair

AP News
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Posted: Jan 31, 2015 5:44 PM

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A traveler who remained at Newark Liberty International Airport after missing two flights faced numerous charges Saturday for allegedly beating a homeless man with a chair as the man was sleeping.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said 29-year-old Leonidas M. Sandoval of Guatemala began acting erratically after arriving at the airport Thursday and missing his flights. He allegedly beat the unidentified man early Saturday morning and also threw a chair at Port Authority police.

The 62-year-old victim was struck in the head numerous times and knocked unconscious, Port Authority police spokesman Joe Pentangelo said. The man was hospitalized with "serious injuries."

Authorities said the alleged attack apparently was unprovoked. Pentangelo said Sandoval was a ticketed passenger and was wearing what appeared to be a hospital bracelet. He said police were treating him as an "emotionally disturbed person."

Authority spokeswoman Erica Dumas told NJ.com that Sandoval was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, aggravated assault on a police officer and weapons offenses. It wasn't known if Sandoval has retained a lawyer.

Sandoval had missed two flights to Guatemala and in both instances was escorted by police out of the terminal's secure area, Dumas said. He was booked on another flight that was due to depart from Newark later Saturday.

At one point while Sandoval was at the airport, Dumas said, an airline worker reported that he followed her out into the parking lot and shouted at her. Dumas said he also had to be asked to leave a ladies restroom.

It wasn't clear how long the homeless man had been at the airport. Although the practice is not encouraged by the Port Authority, homeless people sometimes seek shelter at the airport in harsh weather.