03/12/2006

FBI: Plane diverted to Ohio after passenger makes threats

The Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio- A man made threats aboard a commuter airplane and punched an off-duty crew member Friday before other passengers subdued him, authorities said.

Joseph Pervis Hebert, 48, of Spring Creek, Nev., was arrested at Port Columbus International Airport, where he was being detained.

Hebert was one of six passengers on Continental Commuter Flight 8820 that left Cleveland at 12:50 p.m. for Cincinnati, said special agent Michael Brooks of the FBI's Cincinnati office.

The pilot diverted the plane to Port Columbus International, where Hebert was arrested by airport police. Brooks said there were no weapons involved.

Hebert made threatening comments following takeoff and approached the open cockpit, authorities said. He then punched a male off-duty crew member who challenged him, the FBI said.

Brooks said the crew member was not seriously hurt. Authorities did not disclose Hebert's alleged threats or how the other passengers subdued him.

Besides the pilot and six passengers, the plane carried a first officer and two off-duty flight personnel, the FBI said.

It is likely Hebert will face a charge of interference with a flight crew, which carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison, authorities said. He is expected to appear in court Monday.

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