Terror-Filled Flight To Chicago Diverted To St. Louis

Updated 05/09/11 – 4:45 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — A flight from Houston to Chicago was diverted to St. Louis on Sunday after an unruly passenger, a 34-year-old Burbank, Ill. man, tried to open a plane door during the flight.

Continental Airlines Flight No. 456 left Houston around 11:45 a.m. and in mid-flight, the passenger became unruly and tried to open a door in the jet’s first-class section, officials and witnesses said. Lambert International Airport spokesman Jeff Lea in St. Louis said the man said he had to get off the plane.

The man widely credited with restraining the unruly passenger is Tony Harris of Houston, 60, a veteran and martial arts practitioner who was flying to Chicago to surprise his mother with a visit.

“I took him from the back,” Harris told CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley a day after the event. “First I put the choke hold on him, but he had a hand on the door already.”

Harris subdued the suspect and bound his hands with plastic cuffs. As the flight was diverted to St. Louis, the crew sat them side by side in first class as the suspect told Harris why he tried to open the door.

“I said, ‘Why today? He said, ‘Mother’s Day,’” Harris said.

Many passengers on the plane did not know what was happening, beyond sensing a commotion.

Passenger Sara Olkon of Chicago heard a scream erupt from first class.

“I assumed the worst, that it was some sort of terrorist attack,” she told CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli.

The flight crew contacted law enforcement officials and the plane was diverted to St. Louis, according to a Continental airlines spokesperson.

The flight landed at about 1:30 p.m. at Lambert International Airport and the passenger was taken into custody. The plane was on the ground for less than an hour before it left for Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, a spokesperson said.

The FBI says the incident doesn’t appear terrorism-related.  St. Louis television station KMOV reported Monday the disruptive passenger, Reynel C. Alcaide, was charged with two federal offenses: crimes involving aircraft and interference with flight crew members and attendants.

The flight landed at O’Hare at about 3:30 p.m., according to the airline.

Aviation experts say it’s impossible to open a door during flight because of pressurized air in the cabin. That didn’t stop passengers from being terrified. Some insisted on getting off the plane in St. Louis before it continued on to O’Hare Airport.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been that scared.  I thought this could be it,” said Olkon, a former Chicago Tribune reporter once embedded with the U.S. military in Iraq.

(TM and © Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • Taxpayer 2

    Maybe this man has a medical problem that needed immediately attention. May God bless him.

    • Tom F


      You aren’t a conservative and you aren’t a patriot. You are a liberal troll trying to paint conservatives as racist. Nice try, it ain’t working.

    • chaffer

      That doesn’t work anymore, Jim_TRUEPATRIOT (faker).

      Flaming a messageboard, posing as a rightwinger… too obvious.

    • Nobunaga

      Nice try. Go watch MSNBC or whatever else you progressives do for entertainment. Were your parents siblings, by chance?

    • Marc

      Maybe all these incidents are happening not because of terror, but because these airlines are so organically broken that riding on them is like waitig for bus in africa, the employees look and sound like social democratic employees of the 19 th century,

    • Rod Anders

      He probably doesn’t have insurance due to Obamacare.

    • joshbot

      Freedom is dangerous. The Constitution is the threat. If you don’t surrender your rights you hate America. Do not watch Fabled Enemies at youtube or ask questions.

    • James Comer

      They rely on you sheeple to BELIEVE that the doors can be opened during flight. God you’re pathetic. How about doing some research before you just buy this without thinking. http://www.wisegeek.com/can-you-open-an-airplane-door-during-flight.htm

  • Marc F

    How about releasing the name and photo of the nut job?

    • Alice Lee

      not gonna happen if the nut job is a certain nationality/religion- dont wanna “offend” ya know

  • http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2011/05/09/man-subdued-after-disrupting-flight-to-chicago/ Man Subdued After Disrupting Flight To Chicago « CBS Chicago

    […] The incident happened less than 12 hours after another unruly passenger was arrested on a flight to … […]

  • Thom

    @Mark I stopped reading your comment at, “We don’t want to offend any nationality, especially arabic”…did it get any more intelligent after that point?

    • cajred

      Far more intelligent than you are, oh low one of the sheeple flock.

    • Thom

      @cajred thanks. I’m now looking into the ‘arabic nationality’…so far, can’t find any references for it? Got a link?

    • Weasler

      What did you THINK it was – an Irish old lady? When the heck are you people ever going to come to reality?

    • steamboat

      Mark has a valid point. Rarely does the PC main stream media immediately release immediate information on nut case’s nationality, race (if black or hispanic), sexual orientation, or if they’re a democrat. We usually have to wait for the internet, conservative radio, or Fox News to get us those details.

    • Thom

      @Weasler Firstly, I didn’t ‘THINK’ it was anyone from any race or religion, what with not being there and not having the details: evidenced based decision-making, you should try it out! Secondly, my initial point was about the improper use of the term ‘arabic’ (sic) as a national identity, which of course, it isn’t.

    • Soahs

      People better keep on reading. Otherwise we just might get read out of here. it is very suspicious that nothing was said further to describe this person. They could have said a white natural born American citizen but what they left out is very revealing. Everywhere else, people are described with age, where from, etc. But not here. Why? Thank God there were passengers on the plane that were willing and able to take him down – whatever he was.

    • stacie d

      I was ON the flight and saw the guy. Probably Latino or Native American. The flight originated in Houston, and there were far more Spanish-speaking passengers than those speaking Arabic. In THIS particular case, though, I don’t think his nationality had ANYTHING to do with the incident.

    • Weasler

      To Thiom, who thinks he’s actually “smart”: I would LOVE to make an ‘evidence-basd decision’, but the media won’t allow it, simplly because all the leftist do-good reporters WON’T PROVIDE ALL THE EVIDENCE. That’s the whole point!

    • Thom

      @Weasler “who think’s he’s actually smart”..you inferred that from? So, your point is, as you don’t have the evidence you’ll make the a judgement anyway? Grab the flaming torches, I think we got us a mob!

    • RufusVonDufus

      Thom, how does it feel to know you will never have to worry about hemorrhoids?

    • Thom

      @RufusVonDufus it’s a great relief.

    • AG

      Thom’s a dope. Even if Mark wasn’t clear about his point (and it is not at all clear that the word “nationality” would not apply — try a search on “Arabic nationalism”), the fact remains that the great majority of terrorists have been influenced by Arab provincialism (esp. versus the “West”, seen as a Satanic force), or an extreme brand of Islam, usu. Wahabi, which, of course, is a brand of thought particular to Arabs, (i.e. Wahabi non-Arabs are not a substantial group.) This article should include the race / religion / nationality of the perpetrator — this is definitely *not* incidental information, whether he is Arab and Islamic or not.

    • Thom

      @AG Whether or not an individual subscribes to a pan-Arabism (which, I would argue is the only instance in which ‘Arab’ as a nationality would be remotely applicable) is pretty hard to determine. Given that this political philosophy was never terribly popular across the Arab world, even at it’s height under Nasser, it would seem unlikely.
      One further question. You argue that “the great majority of terrorists have been influenced by Arab provincialism”. Could you clarify if you mean the ‘great majority’ of ‘terrorists’ who are Muslim or motivated by Islamic fundamentalism are motivated by such ‘provincialism’, or the great majority of terrorists? Given that the majority of terror attacks globally and within the US are not undertaken by Muslims (check the FBI’s own statistics and clarification of what constitutes ‘terror’), this is an important distinction.

    • Toots

      Turns out he wasn’t of Arab decent.

  • dan Mcgarity

    The TSA needs to find a safe way to let these fools exit the plane in mid air.

    • Rod Anders

      Flush them down the toilet.

  • Jon

    Like always, it is up to the public to protect ourselves. The TSA is a facade to give the public the illusion of safety.

    • RufusVonDufus

      I just wish that more Americans realized this.

  • jason

    I am glad to see the men on this plane finally did what they should and netralized the problem. If this happend everytime, terrorist would realize they need to find another way to carry out t their plots.

  • Garth

    Well, he was from Burbank, CA, and that explains everthing doesn’t it. I don’t like to fly with anyone aboard who looks middle eastern or Californish. I prefer a long bus ride with people who look like they’re from Kansas.

    • stacie d

      He was from Burbank, ILLINOIS. (Read the article again.) I was on the flight, and he wasn’t Arabic.

      • Alice Lee

        you don’t have to look “arabic” to be a member of the “religion of peace”

  • Joe B.

    Burbank has a lot of Arabs. Just sayin’.

    • stacie d

      He was from Burbank, ILLINOIS, and I was on the flight. He was not Arabic.

  • Paul

    Nationality or description of “Man” not given. PC newsspeak for Muslim!

  • stacie d

    I was ON this flight. The scream and subsequent hysterical announcement (that the flight was being diverted) from one of the flight attendants is what made this incident frightening, because we didn’t really know for a few minutes what was going on. Even so, MY assumption was at first that there was some sort of medical emergency – that someone was having a heart attack or something.

    The rest of the crew was professional and very helpful, and had the situation under control pretty quickly. Several passengers (one MAY have been an air marshal, though that wasn’t confirmed) jumped up to stop the man, though the article is correct – it’s not possible to open the cabin door during flight, so there was no real danger. (Still, it’s nice to know that people are willing to jump in and help.)

    As for above comments about nationality, we were told that he didn’t speak English. I saw him being taken off the plane, and he appeared to me to be Latino or Native American – not Arabic. This was a flight originating in Houston – lots of Spanish-speaking people on the plane.

    The comments of the Tribune reporter are over the top and imply that this had more to do with “terrorism” than it actually did.

    A few people (maybe 6 or 7) did decide to get off the plane, but we were assured that the plane was checked thoroughly, and once the guy and his luggage had been removed, there was no reason not to just go on to Chicago.

    • RPM

      He looked Arabic to me. Arabic, Hispanic, Native American…similar pigmentation.

  • hound

    Arabic is a proper noun. Were should be We’re. Purpetrator should be perpetrator. Illiteracy seems not confined to reporters.

    • Weasler

      Gee, what a profound response. I guess his spelling errors prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that there are no Muslim terrorists, right?

    • Db

      Arabic is also an adjective…

    • Alice Lee

      some of us refuse to capitalize the word arabic for reasons other than illiteracy-

  • heyitsmekelly

    FOX News is reporting that the suspect had a Yeman passport.

    • stacie d

      The guy with the Yemeni passport is the one from the San Francisco flight – different incident.

  • markit8dude

    What’s with the blurred photo? Oh I get it. The individual is Black and we needn’t offend the knee-jerk reactionist ‘minority’ right?

    No different than when an attacker is reported in an AP article and the details of the suspect’s description is ‘accidentally’ left out.

    Viva la political correctness, right CBS?

  • stacie d

    Some people need to re-read the article. He was from Burbank, ILLINOIS, not California. (Not that that really makes any difference. Either way, I saw him, and he wasn’t Arabic.)

    • Sarah

      How do you know he is not Muslim?

      • stacie d

        Good point. I don’t know that he isn’t, I guess, and I shouldn’t assume that all Muslims are Arabs.. (Or that all Muslim are terrorists, or even that all terrorists are Muslim, either.)

        But, in this particular case, I also don’t know that his religion or ethnicity had anything at all to do with why he was trying to open the door, and neither do any of the people who are commenting and making assumptions about the guy.

  • Hank Warren

    Non-stop fake terrorism, yet another violation of our rights. Add it to the list of gov’t violations of our right:
    They violate the 1st Amendment by placing protesters in cages, banning books like “America Deceived II” and censoring the internet.
    They violate the 2nd Amendment by confiscating guns.
    They violate the 4th and 5th Amendment by molesting airline passengers.
    They violate the entire Constitution by starting undeclared wars for foreign countries.
    Impeach Obama and sweep out the Congress.
    (Last link of Banned Book):

  • http://mountainrepublic.net/2011/05/09/fear-of-terrorism-spreads-across-america/ Fear of Terrorism Spreads Across America | Mountain Republic

    […] SUV ‘bomb’ scare … Threats Divert Planes in Three Separate Incidents… Scary Flight To Chicago… Threatening Note In Bathroom Departing Detroit… ‘Are we gonna blow up?’ 4 […]

  • lonfas

    “…journalism is such a crock today that it’s not even worth reading anymore.”

    Well said, Mark!

    Thank you.

  • August Dunning

    Tiberuis Franklin 3minutes ago

    Well, now that the TSA is squeezing your balls looking for terrorists let’s look at the evidence of an al queda 911

    Is there any repetitive events on that date?

    yes there is!

    september 11 1776 – Franklin tells British adm. Howe, we will not rescind our declaration of independence on Staten Island, 4 days later Howe attacks Gen Washington BY SURPRISE on manhattan island at the battle of Manhattan. a year later we take staten island from the british at the battle of fresh kills.

    september 11 1812 – British sink american ships and start the war of 1812, raid our coastlines, burned the whitehouse

    september 11 1864 – british financed union troops burn atlanta to the ground – the capital of the american merchantile trade – their global competitor

    september 11 1912 – british rhodes scholar Edward House, meets with JP Morgan, Sam Chase and Goldman to plan the jekyll island secret meeting to put wilson in the whitehouse, and bring in graduated income tax, a right to work, a demand for cataloging all the living resources animal and human.

    september 11 2001 another SURPRISE ATTACK on trade buldings on top of the location of the battle of manhattan in 1776, and the dead are buried at fresh kills garbage dump on top of the location of teh battle of Freshkills in 1777

    now really people, copy and past this and spread it around. We are at war with a banking RICO orchestrated out of the central banks and the Bank of London, the majority share holder of the Federal REserve Bank of New York.

    It seems clear to me that we should now start paying attention to the fact that 50,000 FEMA officers have been hired, the entire military is out of the country, concentration camps have been built by Halliburton – are empty but manned with guards, the fox is in the hen house

    and the TSA guy just put his fingers up your wifes vagina…

    Now is the time to act, we may never get a better chance to bring back our republic for our ancestors; Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, Washington…and all those that died to protect our freedoms from the likes of TSA, the Banks and the Democracy turd we have as a ruler, not a government.

    • getitright

      To August Dunning and his “british financed troops”…Britain supported the South in the Civil War; their global competitor was the industrialized North.

  • Booya

    Wow, this has nothing to do with “terror” as in terrorists. However, the media and Gov’t has now succeeded in convincing the American public that they need to give up their freedom to be protected from a potential incident that has LESS probability from occurring than death from a bee sting or lightning strike, not to mention a car accident. What a joke.

  • Pouncekitty

    I hope the guy likes jail. They will know how to treat him. He goes in a tight end but comes out a wide receiver!

    • Joel Holtzman

      What GREAT reply.

  • Ramey4

    Hum, no description of the individual again, could he have been Arab?

  • Ed

    It was Bush’s fault.

  • jetdriver

    Jim get real a-hole. Your pathetic comment shows what a low life you are.

  • http://www.lansingandbeyond.com/2011/05/09/catapult-the-propaganda-bin-laden-dies-terror-thrives/ Catapult the Propaganda: bin Laden Dies, Terror Thrives | LansingandBeyond.com

    […] . . . Scary flight to Chicago […]

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