A Turkish man who had been stopped hours earlier by LA Airport Police for breaching airport security - then released - attempted to enter the cockpit of an American Airlines jet traveling from Los Angeles to Honolulu.
According to authorities, Anil Uskanil, 25, was a ticketed passenger aboard the flight and had gone through a TSA screening. At 2:45 a.m. Friday LAX Police received a call that a man had gone through a door in Terminal 5 that leads to the airfield ramp. A contractor spotted him and detained him until authorities arrived.
LAX Police determined Uskanil was intoxicated, charged him with misdemeanor trespassing, and released him.
He boarded the flight to Hawaii, and his odd behavior started before the plane even took off.
Passengers Mark and Donna Basden of Albuquerque, New Mexico, sat down in their first-class seats, and Mark found a laptop in the seat pocket. A flight attendant suspected it belonged to Uskanil, who was in the bathroom.
Basden returned it to the man when he came out. Basden says the man scowled at him, opened and closed the laptop computer and then sat in a different seat. A flight attendant asked to see his boarding pass, and then escorted Uskanil back to row 35.
There are conflicting reports about what happened later in the flight. The Basdens said Uskanil put some kind of towel or blanket over his head and tried to get into the first-class cabin, with his laptop in his hand. A serving cart blocked the doorway, and he was subdued for the rest of the flight.
A government source reports he was loitering in the area of the forward restroom, near the cockpit, with his laptop in hand. When he was asked to return to his seat, he refused.
Other passengers told Hawaii News Now a more detailed and slightly different version of events.
Several hours in, passengers and authorities said, he allegedly tried to break through the cockpit door, throwing himself up against a beverage cart as he tried to force his way into the first-class cabin.
Passengers said the man had a blanket or towel on his head, and didn't say anything as he pushed forward.
Flight attendants, an off-duty Los Angeles police officer and other passengers were able to stop the man and secure him in a seat.
"It was all kind of surreal," said Penny Lorenzen, a passenger on the flight. "It's amazing to me how calm everybody stayed. Angels were watching out for us."
Her husband was among those who got up to try to stop the man.
"It took seconds," said Lee Lorenzen, of Orange County, Calif. "He was pushing against the cart and a bunch of guys grabbed him. They found some duct tape. There were pillows and blankets. And they taped him to his chair."
He added, "It was all over very quickly. They really deserve a medal for what they did."
When the plane landed, law enforcement officers were waiting.
One passenger recorded Uskanil being led off the plane in handcuffs.
Crazy! Someone tried to break into the cockpit on my flight from LA to Honolulu. We were greeted by the FBI. They are now taking us off the plane a few rows at a time for dog sniffing and interviews. I've never seen anything like this. #cnn #fbi #usa #homelandsecurity #hawaii #news ----- Any interested news outlets are welcome to use my footage, please credit BPLUS.noisefloor.dnb as the source.
Uskanil's visa has been canceled, and he is being held at a federal detention center in Honolulu.